Monday, January 5, 2009

Generosity with a catch

I like to go off about people donating hundreds of millions to Harvard's endowment, where their money becomes a drop in a bucket, and they really don't make a difference. Better, I believe, that they donate that money to a small, private college, where they'll significantly boost the endowment and affect the lives of young people in tangible ways.
However, it has come to my attention that no matter where you donate money, seeking acknowledgement for the donation is not a Christian activity.
Matthew 6:2 says "Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."
Basically that means don't shout from the hilltops "Hey, I made a donation to a private school!"
Which is exactly what Oprah has done. I laud Oprah for donating money to an inner-city school. I find her charity efforts in the U.S. and Africa very good and worthy of praise. However she always puts her name on her charitable activities; most of the money comes from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, that way the public knows exactly who it is that is donating the money.

It's not that Oprah doesn't want to help people, I just fear that she, becuase of her wealth, is doing it to improve her image. I am afraid she doesn't want to be seen as a mega-wealthy tv star, so she tosses checks (with her signature clearly written) at charitable foundations and holds a press conference to show what she has done.

The teachings of Jesus encourage tithing, and donations to charity, and helping the poor. However, I'd love to see a press conference where a private school got a $365k donation from "anonymous." I understand Oprah's chagrin at being considered a mega-wealthy jerk, and her urge to do good with her wealth. However, she shouldn't care what people think. She should only care what God thinks.


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