Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim 6:18)
I was annoyed and I was mad and I felt guilty.
I received a call the other day from some charity that helps local veterans. I hate telemarketing calls. Especially those fundraising for a worthy cause. I have no problem saying no to the MSU Annual Fund drive, but I have a hard time saying no to worthy charities helping local people in need. I cannot just hang up – it seems so rude. I don’t like to be rude. The person on the other end is just doing their job and I always think how discouraging it must be to constantly be hung up on. So I try to have a conversation and end it pleasantly.
This particular man was nice enough, talking to me with a familiarity that belied the fact he had no idea who I was. He was passionate about this cause. And of course, he was asking for money. They’ll just send the pledge right on out to me okay?
“No,” I said, “not this time. I already support other local veterans organizations so not this time. Thank you.”
“Denise, if I may, (no you may not, I think to myself) that’s great about the OTHER charities but this one helps our local vets get the medical and other services they need. And our records show you gave us $10 last year, can’t you see your way to do that again this year?”
He played on my emotions and I felt guilty for saying no. I know this is his intention. Veterans serve our country. I should be grateful. I AM grateful. My dad is a veteran, my father-in-law is a veteran, my husband is a veteran. I GET this. I love our veterans which is why I support the organizations I do. That is not the source of the guilt.
I get tired of getting calls for money. My husband would say the answer to that is to disconnect our home phone. I just might. But is that really the answer to the guilt?
I wonder why I feel guilty? Does my being a Christian dictate that I have to give to everyone who asks? Do I feel guilty because I am saying no – not out of the inability to give, but out of annoyance?
I think that is it. I was annoyed that this man didn’t take no for an answer. I was annoyed that I didn’t just hang up. I was annoyed that I felt guilty for thinking I should have just hung up. I was annoyed that this call came in as I finished my quiet time and so I felt extra guilt because I was in the “God zone” and I knew I should be a cheerful giver but wasn’t. I was really annoyed that I felt guilty for being annoyed.
He achieved his purpose and I committed $10 again. So while I could stop feeling guilty about saying no I spent the rest of the day feeling guilty about being mad that I had given under duress. I gave out of guilt – not because of the veteran sentiment, but because I know I am called to be generous. After all, $10 is not a lot. I spent more than that on lunch yesterday.
What is the living holy answer to this dilemma? Guilt is a tool of our enemy. It makes us feel unworthy and not good enough. Was I feeling guilt then or the conviction of the Holy Spirit? We are called to be generous. I believe my husband and I are generous. But does that mean that we give to everyone who asks? Does the requirement to be generous ever end?
I don’t think so. Not when it serves the Kingdom of God. I wrestled with this all day. I believe the Holy Spirit was convicting me of a bad attitude and less than generous spirit. Sometimes the Lord accomplishes His work through telemarketers. If I stay feeling guilty, I will always second guess my faith and this is what our enemy wants. If I allow the Spirit to convict and change my heart, the next time I can just say a cheerful yes, join God at work and move on. No guilt involved.