The Golden Ladder of Giving:
The following account was written by a friend of mine, pastor Dan Stratton, from New York City, and I love it’s thoughts. So, I shot him a message, and asked his permission to post it here on the blog. With his permission, here it is:
“A while back I had dinner with an elderly gentleman who was doing work around the world. He spoke of building shopping centers in Ghana. His name was Daniel and his son’s name is Joseph. Joseph and I were classmates at Yale. However, I was introduced to Daniel through Obie who has been my friend now these past 8 years or so.
A group of politicians and business leaders had come from Africa to discuss potential work that we might do together. We met at the Havana Club at the top of the 6’s where Obie has been a member for some years. We were there as Obie’s guests.
Obie is an established African American businessman – a Harvard graduate and a very strong Christian. Daniel is a Jewish businessman who has done amazingly well in the real estate market and a devout Jew.
Our discussion began. Obie challenged the motives for this potential partnership as he spoke to the contingency from Africa. Amongst this group were men who had been to prison with Nelson Mandela and had been part of the formation of the new government in South Africa. We looked for common ground.
We found common ground Daniel and me in and old document written by Moses Maimanodes. I was introduced to this as the Golden Ladder of Charity. Daniel challenged me and said that the thought would best be understood and communicated as the Golden Ladder of Justice. He said that the difference was this, “Charity is something we can choose to do or not do. Justice is a duty. Justice must be done.”
In this Golden Ladder, Maimanodes bemoans the fact that so many with such good intentions create division through their giving. He says that it is not enough to give. He describes a wisdom and a process that must be considered to insure that the giver doesn’t subjugate the recipient. If the recipient is minimized in any way, he says, eventually there will be a major backlash that will leave both parties diminished.
The Golden Ladder
The steps of giving — 8 rungs.
1. To give with reluctance or regret. This is the gift of the hand but not the heart.
2. To give cheerfully, but not proportionately, but not until solicited. This causes distress to the sufferer.
3. To give cheerfully and proportionately, but not until solicited.
4. To give cheerfully, proportionately and unsolicited but the giver gives directly into the hand of the receiver, exciting in him the painful emotion of shame.
5. To give cheerfully, proportionately, proactively but the giver does not know the recipient. Still the recipient knows the giver.
6. To give cheerfully, proportionately and proactively; whereas, the giver knows the recipient but the recipient does not know the giver.
7. The chamber of Silence — total anonymity. Giving cheerfully, proportionately and proactively, whereas, neither the giver nor the recipient knows each other.
8. Anticipating need. Preventing poverty. Preventing suffering through education, infrastructure and access. Giving to someone so that they never experience a day where they have to raise their hand to ask for help.
I have written extensively on the emotion and the pain experienced as we walk through these 8 steps of revelation. Growing to give without the need to be recognized is a process that few are unaware of.
In every exchange, every conversation, it would bid us all well to keep in mind that even Wisdom is a gift that can subjugate the hearer if we are not careful. This subjugation will create a backlash. Taking heed to give as anonymously as possible is a journey toward selflessness.”
Carefully consider that which you have received. Has it created in us an anger or worse, a hatred for the giver. Reconcile that, or you will receive that same anger paid back to you when you give.
And carefully consider when you give. Your motive may be some form of recognition, that will cost you and the recipient far more than the resources exchanged.
I say this into the realm of need that exists on our precious planet earth. None of these thoughts are mine. I have just discovered them on my “school of hard knocks” journey.”
This is the end, of pastor Dan’s account, but I have been meditating on several Scriptures, that lead my thoughts towards the worship component of our giving:
How about this one:
Here, we see that when we give, we first present our offering to God as an offering, then to whoever He directs us to give it to in this life. Charity then, true charity – must be worship to God.
In this passage, that I often teach on with respect to tithing, I see the spirit of giving, and on this I will expound. When I give to the poor, if possible, I do what I can to remain anonymous, for Jesus Himself said:
Matthew 6:3 AMP
As we understand, that ‘the poor we will always have with us’ and we seek to honestly empower, support, and bless them to the best of our ability through the love of God that works through us, it is good to meet needs, without expecting anything from them, as part of our worship and obedience to God Himself. Though I may not expect anything from the poor, I do expect things for them – as I honestly seek to better their condition, be it through education, job creation, or economic development initiatives.
In Matthew 25, we see how God will judge us, individually and in the work of our organizations, by how well we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, get water to the thirsty, visit the sick and the prisoner. Again, in these passages, I see the spirit of worship injected between the lines of the text – God loves all people – and one of the ways we worship, is to serve and meet the needs of people that He created in His image.
We must do it in faith to please Him, for it is written:
No matter how wealthy our work and gifts make us, we humbly recognize that it is only by the hand of an Almighty Creator, the author of all life that we have been able to prosper, and that He is the author of all life. No matter how wealthy we become, we are limited in our abilities to alleviate human suffering, He is limitless, and well able to repay to us, any amount He might require us to give.
Sometimes that giving, is only seen privately, between us and Him in prayer. Like when Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, and was legitimately owed his wages and expenses while he was there. Yet, he saw the oppression and needs of the people and we read:
14 Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my relatives have eaten the governor’s food allowance. 15 But the former governors who were [in office] before me put heavy burdens on the people and took food and wine from them in addition to forty shekels of silver [as an excessive monthly salary]; even their servants assumed authority over the people. But I did not do so because of the [reverent] fear of God. 16 I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered together there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table a hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now the following were prepared for each day: one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls (poultry) were prepared for me; and in intervals of ten days all sorts of wine was provided in abundance. Yet for all this, I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people. 19 Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all I have done for this people.
Read the whole chapter – he used his position and authority to make financial wrongs right, and to set the people of God free from unjust interest.
I find myself often surrounded by glaring financial needs, children that need food each day to live, orphans that need school tuition and supplies, ministries that need buildings, and I long to help them all, yet I am ONLY responsible to help those that God places upon my heart.
Yes, we are to give, but with selflessness, and purity of heart, that we might see God in every area of our lives.
May we give, generously, often, in faith, to glorify Jesus in all we do:
‘Father, flow through me in generosity and love as I worship You in my giving. Help me to become more selfless, than selfish, equipping and empowering people that you love to the best of my ability. Release to me, more resource and wealth to further make this world a better place. Help me to alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found, to use my position, authority and influence to break policies that oppress people, rather than empower them in life, liberty, honor, and pursuit of the dreams You have placed in every human heart. I ask this, knowing I am heard, for I ask in Your name Lord Jesus, Amen’