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Old 01-28-2014, 12:06 PM
 
Location: NOVA
269 posts, read 566,794 times
Reputation: 506

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This is about my 79-year-old mother. She is SO eager to make offerings to church. Probably at the level that some people might consider excessive. I am not happy about it. Probably this is not about just money, but something is not right beyond the level of money.

Here's the background:

I was born and grew up in Korea and came to the US in mid 20s and have had most of my professional career here for close to 20 years. My parents were long time members of a Presbyterian church there (50+ years)--That is my home church, too, in my mind. Now, I don't have such high respect for churches for Korean congregations here in the US--I kind of try to stay away from them, ever since I came to the US.

My mother recently moved from Korea after my father's passing and currently lives with my family. She does not have any income or property. No retirement account. In fact, I am her "retirement account." I have no problem with that--she is my mother and I am responsible for her well-being in every sense. Fortunately my sisters in Korea also share this mentality so they send me money to help me out. It doesn't have to be that much--she has been living a very frugal life for all her life---we were a family of 5 before she joined us, so it didn't take much to adjust from 5 to 6 (just needed to find a bigger house). But, as of this year, a new monthly expenditure item began--health insurance premium. Even more fortunately, one of sisters, who is relatively wealthy, agreed to pay a big portion of the premium.

Here's the problem: She is so eager to give to church whatever is available, whenever possible---maybe excessively. And whenever I challenge this, she gets serious and tells me "Don't you fear God? Do not spare in giving to Him. God will make you abundant for thousand generations."

You might have noticed that there is more history to this. Yes. My parents were always like this for their life. Tithing? Can't say exactly but I am sure that they were over 20-30% of their income. Of course, when I grew up, we always struggled financially. But my parents put the priority on tithing and giving more to church. They always directed me and my sisters to Malachi 3:10--God will bless you abundantly. When I grew up and still now, I never really challenge that nor follow that either. But I have to say it has been abused very many times by pastors whose foremost goal is "growth" and the congregation whose life goal is financial success, which was just very typical in Korean churches.

When it is the money that they earned through their labor, I don't really care how they spend it. But when the time came and they retired (guess what--with no estate of their own), my sisters and I became the provider for their financial needs, it is a different story. For many years we sent them money (in addition to other needs like medical costs etc) for their free use. It turned out that they gave the majority to church and lived on very small leftover. And they hid this from us for many years. We found out this from church elders when my father passed away. We felt very uncomfortable.

Now, fast-forward. Time has passed enough for my mother to adjust to this new church of Korean congregation in this area. She must have started to feel comfortable with the church, and her "addition to giving" seems to have come back. There was a golden medal thing that the home church in Korea gave to them as a token of appreciation. Believing that that must not remain her personal possession, but having lost the opportunity to return it to the church because she had to come to the US rather all of sudden, she gave it to the church now she attends, saying it doesn't matter. That is God's property.

Well, frankly I'm not happy about losing a memento for my parents and my home church, but she's right. That belongs to God. That's not my property. The problem is.... then the pastor and elders of this church were so impressed by her faith and act of giving, they (semi)openly gave her big compliment. And since then, the pattern seems to have come back---giving above and beyond. I know the pastor and elders intention was OK, but in my opinion it wasn't the most appropriate to give her compliment for the act of giving. I think those nice comments from other church members give her positive reinforcement and I think she is tasting the joy of "getting recognized" by other church members and it's difficult for her to stop. She vehemently denies that and maintains that it is only to God that matters. But.... you know.

So, as it stands now, the fund for her health insurance premium is in jeopardy. What's going to really happen is---of course, health insurance must be paid, that means I will have to face the financial pinch. I am not happy about that. If my sisters knew this, I know they WILL stop sending money. I have to convince them somehow to send the money directly to me, without telling all the truth.

I would appreciate a word of wisdom from fellow Christians here.
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:26 PM
 
1,312 posts, read 1,075,920 times
Reputation: 302
Bless your mother's heart, but she's really got you and your family in a pickle of a tough situation. Have you approached the pastor and/or elders with your concerns? I'm sure someone would talk to her and dissuade her from giving more than she and your family can bear.

Unfortunately, this type of thing is not uncommon. A friend of mine said his 80+ year old mother was sending half or her monthly social security money to a TV evangelist. He finally had to close her bank account and open a new one in his name.

I don't think this is something that can't be worked out, but if your mom is like mine, the last thing she'll do is listen to one of her kids. That's why I think if you can get the pastor, an elder, or even someone else she will listen to talking to her, she will understand what she's doing is having negative consequences.
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:46 PM
 
Location: NY
8,992 posts, read 14,192,166 times
Reputation: 11333
She definately understands the importance of being giving, but she doesn't seem to understand the equal importance of being a good steward of money and posessions. God expects us to be a good steward of money and posessions too, and I am not so sure giving beyond what is reasonable for us is a positive when it means we become a burden on others. Thats not very good stewardship.
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:56 PM
 
4,564 posts, read 2,265,910 times
Reputation: 337
God loves a cheerful giver [ 2nd Cor. 9 v 7 ] meaning Not giving under compulsion, however each is responsible to carry their own load [ of responsibilities ]- Galatians 6 v 5

Money can serve as a protection - Ecclesiastes 7 v 12 - we can not do without money. Proper use of $ is wise - Luke 16 vs 1-9

If a widow is in financial troubles children are to help.- 1st Timothy 5 vs 1-5,8 - but the widow is Not to deliberately place herself in that position.

God's Word talks about ' giving ' at Hebrews 13 v 15 that the Christian sacrifice [ giving ] is the ' fruit of the lips ' meaning praising God. Praising God as Jesus instructed at Matthew 24 v 14 to talk and tell others about the good news of God's kingdom in the hands of Christ Jesus. Not paying $$$, so to speak, for another to do that for you.

Jesus never stressed adding wealth for the purpose of having wealthy ' Houses of Worship ', etc. but to use wealth to help more on a one-on-one basis such as helping someone in immediate need as in the illustration of the neighborly good Samaritan did help even a stranger in his time of genuine need.

I don't know if this is a ' word of wisdom', but if you read, or she reads, the above verses or passages, how would your mother reply ?
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Old 01-28-2014, 03:48 PM
 
16,062 posts, read 9,234,697 times
Reputation: 7156
Quote:
Originally Posted by sequon View Post
This is about my 79-year-old mother. She is SO eager to make offerings to church. Probably at the level that some people might consider excessive. I am not happy about it. Probably this is not about just money, but something is not right beyond the level of money.

Here's the background:

I was born and grew up in Korea and came to the US in mid 20s and have had most of my professional career here for close to 20 years. My parents were long time members of a Presbyterian church there (50+ years)--That is my home church, too, in my mind. Now, I don't have such high respect for churches for Korean congregations here in the US--I kind of try to stay away from them, ever since I came to the US.

My mother recently moved from Korea after my father's passing and currently lives with my family. She does not have any income or property. No retirement account. In fact, I am her "retirement account." I have no problem with that--she is my mother and I am responsible for her well-being in every sense. Fortunately my sisters in Korea also share this mentality so they send me money to help me out. It doesn't have to be that much--she has been living a very frugal life for all her life---we were a family of 5 before she joined us, so it didn't take much to adjust from 5 to 6 (just needed to find a bigger house). But, as of this year, a new monthly expenditure item began--health insurance premium. Even more fortunately, one of sisters, who is relatively wealthy, agreed to pay a big portion of the premium.

Here's the problem: She is so eager to give to church whatever is available, whenever possible---maybe excessively. And whenever I challenge this, she gets serious and tells me "Don't you fear God? Do not spare in giving to Him. God will make you abundant for thousand generations."

You might have noticed that there is more history to this. Yes. My parents were always like this for their life. Tithing? Can't say exactly but I am sure that they were over 20-30% of their income. Of course, when I grew up, we always struggled financially. But my parents put the priority on tithing and giving more to church. They always directed me and my sisters to Malachi 3:10--God will bless you abundantly. When I grew up and still now, I never really challenge that nor follow that either. But I have to say it has been abused very many times by pastors whose foremost goal is "growth" and the congregation whose life goal is financial success, which was just very typical in Korean churches.

When it is the money that they earned through their labor, I don't really care how they spend it. But when the time came and they retired (guess what--with no estate of their own), my sisters and I became the provider for their financial needs, it is a different story. For many years we sent them money (in addition to other needs like medical costs etc) for their free use. It turned out that they gave the majority to church and lived on very small leftover. And they hid this from us for many years. We found out this from church elders when my father passed away. We felt very uncomfortable.

Now, fast-forward. Time has passed enough for my mother to adjust to this new church of Korean congregation in this area. She must have started to feel comfortable with the church, and her "addition to giving" seems to have come back. There was a golden medal thing that the home church in Korea gave to them as a token of appreciation. Believing that that must not remain her personal possession, but having lost the opportunity to return it to the church because she had to come to the US rather all of sudden, she gave it to the church now she attends, saying it doesn't matter. That is God's property.

Well, frankly I'm not happy about losing a memento for my parents and my home church, but she's right. That belongs to God. That's not my property. The problem is.... then the pastor and elders of this church were so impressed by her faith and act of giving, they (semi)openly gave her big compliment. And since then, the pattern seems to have come back---giving above and beyond. I know the pastor and elders intention was OK, but in my opinion it wasn't the most appropriate to give her compliment for the act of giving. I think those nice comments from other church members give her positive reinforcement and I think she is tasting the joy of "getting recognized" by other church members and it's difficult for her to stop. She vehemently denies that and maintains that it is only to God that matters. But.... you know.

So, as it stands now, the fund for her health insurance premium is in jeopardy. What's going to really happen is---of course, health insurance must be paid, that means I will have to face the financial pinch. I am not happy about that. If my sisters knew this, I know they WILL stop sending money. I have to convince them somehow to send the money directly to me, without telling all the truth.

I would appreciate a word of wisdom from fellow Christians here.
Some good points have been made already. However I would also get a "feel" for the pastor as he may be encouraging this giving.

Then remind her that the money is yours and it must be your decision and if pushed the gift is meaningless to God. It is either from your heart or not and if not, it would be of no value.
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Old 01-28-2014, 05:33 PM
 
Location: Gulf Coast Texas
26,198 posts, read 14,090,937 times
Reputation: 10087
From the OP...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sequon View Post
Here's the problem: She is so eager to give to church whatever is available, whenever possible---maybe excessively. And whenever I challenge this, she gets serious and tells me "Don't you fear God? Do not spare in giving to Him. God will make you abundant for thousand generations."
Is she giving in order to be abundant for a thousand generations? I don't think that biblical.

The only time a thousand generations are mentioned - it talks of remembering God's covenant.

Maybe you go to the pastor and discuss why we should be giving. Money and everything else is God's property regardless of whose hands its in.

Or you could have come discussions with her and stealthly find out what is behind the motive to give if you are not sure.

I guess I am suggesting a more doctrinal approach whenever you are sure of her motives.

If all else fails, don't give her the money - pay her bills yourself and cut out the middleman... or middlewoman... whatever...
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Old 01-28-2014, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
21,263 posts, read 20,865,688 times
Reputation: 9950
Quote:
Originally Posted by sequon View Post
This is about my 79-year-old mother. She is SO eager to make offerings to church. Probably at the level that some people might consider excessive.
I'm just curious as to what you consider "excessive."
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Old 01-28-2014, 05:53 PM
 
2,065 posts, read 4,161,028 times
Reputation: 972
Stewardship is as important as giving. Maybe mom could give directly to a charity of good standing, or find a Korean outreach group where she can connect and communicate.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
8,580 posts, read 5,113,105 times
Reputation: 3915
In my mother's last years she became enamored of television preachers who are pretty good at getting money. And she and dad didn't have that much money. The strange thing was my mother rarely went to church, but my dad attended faithfully. It was a problem not resolved until her death.

But I wonder if the OP has an opportunity to talk with the pastor of the church about finding someplace that his mother could give of herself (depending on her health). That is far more satisfying than opening one's pocketbook, imo.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:55 PM
 
17,689 posts, read 8,866,529 times
Reputation: 1485
Charity comes from the heart, not the wallet.
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