Benefits of Giving - #6 Inspiration

Giving inspires!  Ever read an article or viewed those tear jerker videos about selfless acts done by people to help others in need?  They are simply awesome.  We love watching those.  Each and every one of those accounts show that we as humans are inspired when our fellow earthlings reach out to love on others.  

Heck, we even cry watching those videos where the dog stays with its trapped companion!  Any act of giving is beautifully inspiring.  Give some inspiration today!  Give your Mite and be an inspiration to us all.  

Benefits of Giving - #5 Exponentiality  

Did you ever consider the compounding impact of a gift?  Just consider a Mite.  Say one of our awesome eMiters gave a $5 gift to a project that built a classroom for poor children in the Philippines.  Now, it should be obvious that the single Mite was not responsible for the entire construction of the classroom.  However, that Mite placed with thousands of others did build the classroom!  That is serious multiplication and that single Mite shared in the whole thing!  

But, the math does not stop there.  Let’s say that in the classroom 50 children could be taught and throughout the day there were 5 classes in that classroom.  Then let’s say that the classroom was used for over 50 years to teach those children throughout their school years.  Well that would mean that 5 classes of 50 different children would have been taught per year for a total of 50 years.  So 12,500 children would have been taught in that classroom and over 60,000 different class sessions would have been held in that classroom.  The eMiter would be part of that!

Not done yet though.  Let’s say that every one of those 12,500 children taught in that classroom went out into the world and did something positive, like raising a family, working, living productive lives and helping others, and each one of them positively touch the lives of 10,000 people during their lifetimes.  That would be 125,000,000 additional people affected by the recipients of that eMiter’s donation.  

So $5 impacts over 125 Million people… and counting.  That is exponential!  

Sound like a stretch to you?  Give a Mite and see if our math works.

Benefits of Giving - #4 Relationship

At eMite we love to share in giving (1).png

Giving is a relational activity. In fact, giving is one of the most intimate relations that we as humans can share.

Giving forms bonds between the donor and the recipient. Our giving in modern times is often too impersonal to form much of a relationship, but even in the age where we give through computers there can be shared experiences in the act of giving. These shared experiences are beautiful and contain blessings for all involved.

At eMite we love to share in Giving! We hope that you will join our community of givers and enjoy the experience of giving your Mite as well.

Benefits of Giving - #3 Priority

Giving sets our mind right on priorities. It is easy to get sidetracked in this world by our daily living. We can easily put too much weight on things that frankly do not deserve the honor. Giving takes us back to the point where we focus on what is more important. There is little of greater importance in this world than the human life. When you act in giving to help a life in need, you are aligning your priorities based on what is truly important.

If you are looking for a priority adjustment, give a Mite and see what happens.

Benefits of Giving - #2 Perspective

You are a blessed person. You may or may not believe this statement, but your belief in the statement does not affect its validity. We have a tendency to look at others when reflecting on our own value and on the value of our possession. Unfortunately the others we tend to look at are those who have more stuff than we have. That stuff becomes a filter through which we devalue our own blessed existence.

Giving of ourselves can have a reversing effect on the stuff filter. It is in giving that we see others in need and their need helps us understand that we are indeed blessed. Of course, the act of giving does not in any way change our situation, except maybe to remove some of the stuff we have. But giving does allow us to release some of what we have to aid the relief of another person in need. This action reveals 3 things:

It reveals that we have some stuff that can help others.
It reveals that others have needs, probably greater than our own.
It creates a blessing for recipient and giver to share.

If you don’t believe me, just try it out. Give a Mite and see if you are blessed.

Benefits of Giving - #1 Fulfillment

Everybody from the Huffington Post to Berkley.edu to John Stossel at Fox News have written about the happy benefits found in the act of giving to charity. There are as many qualifiers provided in the innumerable scribbles on the subject, as there are authors on the topic. We will not attempt to further hammer home the neurological effects of charitable giving illuminated by the numerous studies performed in recent years. Ours is a much more elementary level approach - although a tad bit deeper.

At eMite we prefer to characterize giving as a fulfilling action. While others approach giving from the happiness meter, we find this measure to be a bit too fleeting. Happiness comes and goes. But fulfillment is something that, once accomplished, cannot be diminished. You may or may not obtain happiness from fulfillment. But if you fulfill your purpose; you are not able to remove the impact of that fulfillment. It stands eternally.

We propose that Giving, the act of helping others in need, is an essential component in a fulfilled life. There is no doubt that Giving is dependent upon even greater attributes in a person, such as the greatest of all, Love. But as Love brings about Giving, it is Giving that brings the expression of the Love that encourages the act. We hail Love as greatest because without Love our existence is worthless - at best. But it is through Giving that the Love we possess is expressed and it is through that expression that fulfillment is derived in our lives.

The Priest and the Levite - a lesson in familiarity

That old truism - familiarity breeds contempt - is just as real to our giving as it is in any other area of our lives. Remember the last time you saw the commercials promoting an organization fighting against starvation in underdeveloped countries? Did you give? No. Well, I didn’t either.

Now let’s be fair. There are many reasons for not giving to a charity - even if it is to help starving children. It could be that the nonprofit promoting their fight against hunger has a 1 star rating on Charity Navigator and spends over 70% of their total budget on administration. That would be a reason to say no. However, the fact is that the use of starving children in the organization’s promotional ad made it less likely that people, who turned away from it without giving, will give to any other organization serving the starving people of the world.

The more often an individual is exposed to need without reacting compassionately to that need, the harder the individual becomes to need in general.

Early in my nonprofit career I had the opportunity to visit eastern block European countries. Romania was a common destination because we had orphanages that we helped there. On my visits it was not uncommon to check in at the government orphanages to talk with the workers and bring gifts to the children living in these institutions. On one of my first visits to the government run orphanages I had the opportunity to sit down with the director of the facility.

Even today, decades since that meeting, I get tense thinking about our discussion. At the time I met with this individual, the orphanages in Romania were extremely underfunded. They had too many children and nowhere near enough resources. The purpose of my meeting was to discuss ways we could work together. We talked about possibly supplying hygienic products for the children, about food stuff or even potentially converting orphanages over to privately funded organizations. All of my proposals were shut down as unwanted by this director. There was no interest in assistance unless it was in monetary form.

I left that meeting feeling very much like punching holes in things. I just could not understand the attitude. How could an individual directing an institution that was underfunded and understaffed turn down help? Children had to be cared for! How was it possible that money was the only acceptable means of assistance? At the time my answer was corruption, and because of my certainty of that corruption, I did not give any money to the director. It would not go to help the children. But the corruption was only a symptom of the real malady. The real culprit was a attitude of familiarity that developed over years of being exposed to the conditions in the Romanian government orphanages. This person had likely known many children who died in those institutions. Corruption was certainly nothing new, even to the point of stealing food from children’s mouths. It was the way of the world for the director and now because of hardness and contempt it was time to profit off the way.

Frankly, I do not excuse myself from the familiarity malady. Too many times I have overlooked needs that were real because I was used to them. The homeless man on the street, the child dying of cancer, the refugee with no home, I have looked past all of them, and others. But there is hope for me. There is hope for anyone who finds themselves overlooking those in need.

Luke 10:25-37 is one of the most familiar Biblical passages on helping others. It relates Jesus talking about the Good Samaritan. We hear in this story that a man got beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest walking down the road moves over to the other side and walks on by “when he saw” the beaten man. A levite does exactly the same thing when he “saw him”. But a Samaritan, a person of Samaria - of the people who most jews in Israel hated at this time - “saw” the beaten man and had “compassion”. The rest of the story explains how this Samaritan took care of the man, even paying for his lodging. Jesus poses the following question after telling the story: “Who was the neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

Most often when we hear this story we focus our attention on the Good Samaritan because that is who we want to be. I would much rather be the hero who helps the one in need than those other “walk on by” guys. But just for a moment let’s look at those other guys, the priest and the levite. These individuals had similar professions. The priest would have likely had a role in the temple. If not directly in the temple proper, the priest would have at least been associated with the temple and other religious institutions of the day. The levite may have also had duties associated with the temple. He could have taught or been a scribe for Israel. In both instances, there is a likelihood of exposure to the needs in their respective communities. The places they went and even the duties they performed would have made it common for the sick, lame and poor to be evident and visible.

What would make a person cross to the other side of the road upon seeing a person in need? What would make a priest, whose direct responsibility is the physical and spiritual welfare of the Jewish people, pass by a person so obviously in need? He saw need and did not respond. I don’t think it was the first time that happened. It’s likely that this priest had done the same many times before. The hand of the beggar was passed by. The lame on his mat was passed by. The poor widow was passed by. So much need and so little response had made a heart grow small and hard.

But - HOPE! There is hope. I know this because Luke explains to whom this story of the Good Samaritan is told. Jesus uses this account to reveal to a “lawyer”, one who was responsible for understanding and interpreting the law, those who are indeed his neighbor. After the lawyer rightly answered the question proposed, Jesus instructed him to “go, and do the same.” With this single statement we can know that there is hope that we might all be like the Good Samaritan. When faced with the needs of others we must simply answer the call. We must have compassion. We must show mercy.

We cannot let the magnitude of the need overcome us. We must answer even when our little seems so very small. We must not allow the corruption of some, who take advantage of the needs of others for personal gain, to stop us. We must answer by seeking out and giving to those who are truly meeting the needs of others. We must not allow familiarity to invade our hearts through mailers, infomercials and multimedia advertising. We cannot give familiarity a place in our lives. We must answer by giving when the opportunity arises. A small gift will do. Just answer the call.

The Product of Giving

It is more blessed to give than to receive. This is an often heard quote from Jesus Christ. The source of this proverb lends to it an eternal validation, but it most certainly can be difficult at times to believe. In our fallen state, in a world that praises, even idolizes, those who by any means necessary achieve the success of great wealth, it is hard to believe a truth that goes contrary to this idolization.

My intent is not to demonize wealth or those who have riches. I understand how immensely powerful riches can be in the hand of an honorable, generous person. The world has been altered for good by such scenarios. However, it seems that the same world is quick to overlook these moments and focus more on the riches themselves, building pedestals for those who attain them by hook or by crook. Based on this attitude it is becoming a reality in today’s culture that it is better to receive than give and in some circles it is better to take than to give.

Thankfully, truth is truth and while few may follow it, it will alway be available to be followed. Jesus’ words on giving are as true today as when they were spoken. It is better to give than to receive and in his letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul outlines one of the many reasons why. Paul admonishes his readers to give cheerfully and then states that their generosity will cause the witnesses and recipients of their gifts to “produce thanksgiving to God.” He later thanks God for this truth and calls it God’s “inexpressible gift!” Paul obviously understood the magnificence of God design in giving.

The single greatest accomplishment any person can make is to bring glory to God. God alone is perfect. He is the Maker of all things. He is sovereign over all things. For this reason He is the only being who is worthy of glory. He lovingly and generously shares His glory with His children, but He alone is worthy to receive it. So when we as His creation can cause glory to be given to God, we accomplish our greatest achievement.

This is why Paul refers to this principle of giving as an inexpressible gift. It is in giving that a person converts their personal, worldly, corruptible resources into an eternal glory to God and exchanges something that is going away with something that will never end. Through the transaction of giving we have the opportunity to not only help those in need, positively affecting the lives of others, but as a result of this transaction we produce an everlasting impact as glory is given to God from our actions! It is amazing how God makes such things available to us.

Let us endeavor to see afresh the truths that - Giving is Better than Receiving - and that - there is no greater accomplishment than bringing Glory to God!

2 Corinthians 9:11-12

Decide what you will give and be happy!

Have you ever heard the saying:

“Those who sow a little will reap little, and those who sow much will reap a great harvest.”

Well, that comes from the Bible (2 Corinthians 9). As I remember hearing that saying, it was always followed up with an admonition to give as much as I could give. Give Big! Add a Zero to whatever you are planning to give. Empty the wallet type stuff. After all, why would you not give a lot if you will reap a lot in return? But I think this line of thought is a little off the mark when compared with what was actually discussed in the Biblical passage.

The Apostle Paul is the writer of the letter containing this passage and the Corinthians were the recipients of that letter. Paul was writing in advance of his planned visit to Corinth. In preparation of his visit, he wanted the Corinthians to arrange “the gift” that was anticipated. The gift mentioned was to be a donation for the work among the saints in Macedonia. Paul was evidently impressed by the Corinthian “zeal” toward the work. He in fact mentions his “boast” about their “readiness” toward the “ministry for the saints”. He had no intention of embarrassing himself or the Corinthians by arriving before the gift was ready and possibly having to eat his boasting words about their readiness to give. So he sent some of his coworkers in the gospel ahead of him to ensure all was ready when he and any Macedonian travelers who might venture with him arrived.

Paul had two stated purposes for sending someone ahead of him to Corinth. The first, as discussed above, was to ensure the readiness of the gift. The second reason was likely of more importance to Paul than the first. It was to make sure that any gift given was not seen as “extraction” but rather as a “willing gift”. If Paul were present, the people may have felt under obligation to present a gift to him for the ministry, more specifically a certain sized gift. Paul wanted to be absent so that the people could freely give without the sense of extortion that may be felt when the recipient of the gift is present. We tend to give more when the minister is looking over our shoulder as we write the check. Paul wanted none of that, so he encouraged them to get the giving done before he got there.

Here is where we get to the passage about sowing and reaping. Paul states in verse 6, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul wanted a gift that was cheerfully given not a donation that was reluctantly handed over. I would also suggest that Paul’s analogy was by no means intended to exert pressure on the givers to increase the size of their gifts. Paul makes an obvious, logical statement that the level of reaping directly corresponds to the level of sowing. If you put a small number of seeds in the ground you will reap a small amount of crops. But if you put in a large number of seeds, you will reap a large number of crops. Paul did not suggest one was better than the other or that one was more acceptable than the other. He was simply making a statement of fact.

This viewpoint is further supported later in the passage when Paul states, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart”. He did not say each one must give as much as he can possibly give. Nor did he give the “Add a zero because this is your opportunity to reap a huge harvest!” exclamation. Paul indicates that everyone is responsible for understanding and deciding what they will give and then giving it. In doing this, one can eliminate compulsion and reluctance in giving. A person, giving what they have decided to give, will become what Paul describes as a “cheerful giver”. Also according to Paul, a cheerful giver is something that God loves. In giving, there is no worry about how much you are giving on God’s part. He does not fret over what He will do if you do not add the zero. Believe me, God has it covered. What God is interested in is how much of yourself you give. Did you give freely, without reluctance or compulsion? Did you give selfishly or did you give with a heart of cheerfulness?

At eMite we want every giving opportunity to be one where the giver experiences cheer. We never want to receive a Mite from a hand that would rather hold onto it. We are grateful to be in the company of people who love to give. It encourages us and we know it helps others. We invite you to join this company of givers. Decide what your Mite will be and simply give it. Freely. Cheerfully. Then we can all celebrate!

The People are Coming

When I say loaves and fishes what do you think? Well, in my mind, right before the thought of a sesame seed bagel with a healthy serving of smoked salmon, comes the remembrance of a story from the Bible where Jesus multiplies a few loaves and a couple of fish to feed around 10,000 people. Of course this story would rank prominent in the mind of a church goer. It was one of Jesus’ hallmark miracles accounted for in the Bible.

But there is more to the story than the miraculous multiplication of some bread and fish. There is a lesson for all of us to consider in our own lives. The account is written in the 6th Chapter of the book of John and the lesson is found in the verses leading up to the account. We find Jesus with his disciples heading up a mountain where they sit down. A crowd followed Jesus and the disciples. This crowd was described as “large” with as many as “five thousand men” included in it. The woman and children would have at least doubled that number. So there were a lot of people walking up that mountain (probably more like a hill from our topographical reference point).

As Jesus and the disciples were sitting there watching this crowd move up the mountain, Jesus spoke up to Philip, one of his disciples, and said “‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’” (John 6:5). Philip’s initial thought may have gone something like this, “Well now, that is an interesting question, Jesus. I have no idea!” But rather than admit to his obvious lack of a plan, Philip deflects the question by referring to the resource they did not have - money. Things are hopeless, Jesus! “‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.’” Notice in Philip’s reply that he not only focuses on the high cost to feed such a crowd but he further diminishes any hope of feeding the lot of them by suggesting that even if they spent such a large sum of money no one was going to get much of anything. In other words, we are going to have to spend a lot of money to just give a little to each person. This is what we at eMite call the Not Enough for Way Too Little syndrome or abbreviated NEWTooL Syndrome.

NEWTooL is commonly used to discourage anyone from doing anything that will help in anyway. This proclamation, that something costs way too much and even if the cost were covered such insignificant impact would be made through it, is responsible for the death of countless philanthropic endeavors. Endeavors that would have certainly changed the lives of many people and possibly would have changed the world that many live in.

Think about Philip’s reply. Why did he not include a value that would have at least given everybody enough to get full? Why not reference 600 Denarii? That would have been triple the amount required to feed the crowd a little. It would have cost him nothing to say that instead of the smaller value. Why limit it to 200 Denarii? Philip went to bottom of the barrel to get his value and finished it off by leaving no hope of making a significant impact on any one in the crowd. Why do anything at all? We just don’t have enough. It does not even make sense to get involved.

That is Philip’s reply. We say “God Bless, Philip!” He was a great disciple and learned a tremendous amount under the leadership of Jesus. But wow! He was all wrong on this one. Contrast Philip’s reply to Andrew’s on the same question. Verse 8 indicates that Andrew replied, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they to so many?” So Andrew appears just as faithless as Philip but he did not go with the NEWTooL Syndrome. His reply is was we at eMite call the This is What I Got - It Ain’t Much statement. We abbreviate this one as well - TWIG-I-AM.

Andrew’s reply did not show much faith, but what it did do is leave a possibility that something could be done. Hey, 5 loaves and 2 fish won’t feed a crowd of 10,000 people unless of course you are sitting on a mountain with the Son of God! Once the resource, however small and insufficient, was presented to Jesus, he got immediately to work. The people sat down on the grass, and Jesus gave thanks over the little that was brought to him and the rest is history.

When comparing the NEWTooL Syndrome to the TWIG-I-AM response it is important to recognize that both were given by people who were disciples of Jesus. Both had seen the miracles performed by this man. In fact the crowd was following Jesus up the mountain because “they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” (vs 2). Philip and Andrew had much more time and much more exposure to the miracle worker, Jesus. No human is immune from viewing circumstances from the perspective of too little, not enough. We all can fall for this one. That is why at eMite our giving model is based on many giving a little to produce a tremendous effect. The fact is that if we are willing to give our Mite, no matter the size, we can have a great impact on people’s lives. The crowd may be large and the cost may seem high and just maybe in your eyes your small gift can’t really make an impact. But the truth is that the only Mite that will have no impact is the one that is not given. Your Mite, when given, has an impact.

The miracle of multiplication account written in the gospel of John shows us that Jesus had a plan before he even asked the question. He knew what was going to happen and how the crowd would be fed. He knew that there would be leftovers after everyone was full. He knew exactly how it would be done. In the same manner he knows exactly what he can do with your Mite. The question is whether you will allow the NEWTool Syndrome to keep you from making your TWIG-I-AM statement?

Give your Mite and see what happens.

The First Mite Given

If you don’t know the story check it out in the Book of Mark, chapter 12. It is an account of a person giving all she had. The value of such a gift was declared to be “more” than any of the much larger donations contributed. The contrast between the giver of the more gift and the others who gave was likely just as startling as the difference between the monetary value of their respective gifts. A poor widow gave the more gift. She brought what she had “to live on” and out of obedience gave it in the temple treasury. “Many rich people” gave much larger sums than that of the widow’s “mite”.

What may not be particularly evident in this story are the feelings of the widow. There is no discussion about her approach to the gift or to her appearance in the offering line. We know she was poor and gave in spite of her own need. We know that she was giving out of obedience to the law regarding tithing. But we don’t know whether any special provision came from her gift and, just like the widow, we have no idea how her gift was used.

Of course, as human beings we guess some of what the widow might have felt while she stood in that line. She may have felt some despair. After all she was giving what she had to live on. How would she make it through the rest of the week? That would be a little bit worrying. She may have felt a little discouragement. What good would her penny do for the temple? How could such a small amount do much of anything? She may have felt a little embarrassment. Standing in line with rich people waiting to give out of their wealth while you are holding two small copper coins could be a little embarrassing, intimidating and even frustrating.

Even though these and many more emotions may have been going through the widow’s mind, she stayed obedient and gave her mite. That is what made her gift so special. The greatness of the gift had nothing to do with it’s size. It was the heart of the giver that mattered. This is why we at eMite believe that “Giving is not a matter of amount of gift. Giving is a matter of amount of giver.”

How much do we give when we donate our money? If we limit our view of the gifts we donate to the money we have in the bank, we limit the value of the gift itself. A gift of money out of our bank account can always be replenished. You have more where that came from. But what if we recognize the gift for the value it contains. That money in the bank has only monetary value, but the time spent making that money has a value based on the life behind it - your life. When you view your donation as Mite - as the life that went into making the money, the value of the gift grows infinitely and likewise the desire to see that Mite put to good use increases.

The widow brought her mite. She gave what she had to live on - the value of which was in the heart that gave the gift. We, as eMiters, give our Mite from the same heart. It may not be the last copper coins we have but it is given with the acknowledgement that it has value beyond the money represented. We give out of obedience, with a desire to positively impact people’s lives, understanding that what we give is our life, our time, our Mite.

What's the focus on Mite?

When we give of ourselves, whether it’s time, knowledge, money or other manners, we are giving our Mite (Might). When you work, you are paid money as a value of the time you spend working. For a period of time in your life you choose to work in order to make money. That money is a product of your life and the time you spent making it. In essence what you’re paid is a valuation of your life.

At eMite we translate that value into the term “Mite”. It is the reason why we take the stewardship of your gifts so serious. We do not view a donation as simply money. It is an eMiter’s precious time. You give of your life and we strive to make sure that gift is as impactful as possible in both your life and the lives of those receiving the gift.

That’s why at eMite we view donations in terms of Mites not dollars. When a person gives a Mite it’s a sacred action and we see the use of that Mite as a sacred trust. Because of this view and the value we place on a Mite, we make sure our donors are aware of how their Mite is used. When you give to eMite, 100% of your gift goes directly to the need - to help people. When you give to eMite, you see first hand the impact your mite makes in the lives of others. Through available technology, we take you to the field so that you can see and celebrate with the people that you have impacted through giving your Mite.

When you give to eMite, you join with a community of givers, eMiters, to enjoy the excitement, inspiration and blessing of giving. That’s what eMite is about and why we focus on the Mite.