Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. (2 Corinthians 8:13 NIV)
It's not that God wants me to be short-changed while others have more, but that there might be equality - a fairness - between those that have, and those that have so little.
Have you ever heard or read of an urgent appeal for funds, but realized that the person or organization making the appeal were far better off than you? Something is odd about you sacrificing from your small resources to help them get richer, isn't it? Not just odd, but - even wrong?
I have pondered on the pros and cons of this at different times. I recognize that some organizations may work with a far bigger budget than I do, but they use the funds to help many others in worthwhile ways. So if I donate to their cause I am helping those much poorer than myself. However, when it is an individual, or small group that is fund-raising so they can go on a trip - when there is no way I can go on a trip, and perhaps barely afford my own groceries - then it would be wise for me to decline to contribute.
This then becomes one of my giving guidelines. Although there may be the ocassional exception with good reason, generally I will not give so that others have a far better situation than I, but so that those who have less than I can have their basic needs met too. That rings true with that verse in 2 Corinthians 8:13, doesn't it? That there might be equality.
That makes wonderful sense. There have been times we have voted on pastors' salaries and they are already receiving 3 -4 or even 5 and 10 times as much as I. Somehow that did not feel comfortable to me. On the other hand, I know there are people who have not enough to eat, no place to sleep, or missionaries who cannot get their basic needs meet so they can continue in ministry.
Equality doesn't mean we turn communist, and put everything in one pot and divide it equality among all contributors. For one thing, not everyone has the same gifts and abilities for managing funds and resources. That is, some will use it wisely and some will waste it. It also removes the motivation for those who can excel from even trying to do better.
No, "that there might be equality" doesn't mean share and share alike. It means those who have more share with those who have less out of love and sympathy. It puts us into relationships which are God's goals.
If you need a rule of thumb for giving, take this one; I'm happy to share it. If my giving would enrich someone to enjoy more than I do, then I will refrain. If my giving will meet some basic necessities, especially those of the household of faith - then I will give.
Going back to that Bible passage for further guidance, we see that the next verse, 14, adds, At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality. . . Now think of that! God says that the tables will get turned one day. Today you may be helping a needier brother or sister, but one day they will be helping you!
That may not be in the same currency or type of gift you gave them. But it will be something that you need. I'm thinking of the intangible and spiritual gifts that the poor often have. But the point is that as we give - God will work things out so that you are given the very things you lack and need. (Think 'big picture' here). God's goal is that there might be equality - a fairness and a love between the people He has made and that He loves so much.
Let's give as we are able, out of the resources we have (not necessarily just money), so that there might be equality - and let's leave it to God to work out the fairness angle.