Giving: God, Gospel & Generosity
I'm going through the Certified Kingdom Advisor material right now. It's great - thought-provoking, Gospel-centered, and it's challenging me. Challenging me to think about things from more of a Kingdom mindset. Here are some things I've been mulling around:
Giving While in Debt?
You know the stat...... 7 out of 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and our recent bout with inflation has only exasperated those issues within the country. So how do we counsel the person in debt to deal with giving as it relates to their daily budget? In 1 Corinthians 16:2 the apostle Paul said, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there may be no collections when I come.” We tend to think about giving as the last phase of our budget. But instead, the apostle Paul is telling us it must be at the top of our budget. It must be the first thing that we do. He is essentially telling us: WE SHOULD GIVE.
Now, there are some practical ways to make this happen. First, it should be proportionate to the situation you find yourself in. Many times, if someone is deeply in debt, we may encourage them to give still, but being gazelle intense with paying off their debt will allow them to quickly get to a position where they can give a tithe, plus an offering, plus spontaneous giving. Second, it should be systematic, out of your income. Why does your electric bill never go unpaid? Why does your mortgage never go unpaid? Because they are highly important and you have a systematic process for them, or said another way, they are automatically paid. That is how you can be a more effective giver. First, determine what you should be giving and then make it automatic. Then it’ll happen, and just like everything else (mortgage, electric, etc.), you’ll force yourself to budget around it.
Why Should a Christian Be Giving?
Breaks The Power of Money
Remember, giving can be challenging at first, especially when you feel like there are competing interests; however, there are benefits within your spiritual life that giving will help you master. The first of which is giving breaks the power of money. Money has no power over me when I freely give it. The Apostle Paul again says in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. Through this craving, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” Notice Paul does not say that money itself is evil – many with an unhealthy relationship to hating money will say this is so, but it’s not. It’s the love of money. How do I live out that I am not in love with money? I freely and generously give it away. In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus further tells us, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness, how deep that darkness is! No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
Giving Helps Us To Recognize God's Ownership
The difference between a Kingdom-based Financial Advisor and a normal (albeit good one) is that they recognize that God owns it all. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Every in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Riches and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is at your discretion that people are made great and given strength.” What a powerful verse. As I recite that verse, I can almost feel that power that God owns it all and everything is His and under His control. Thus, when we give, we recognize that God first gave to us His Son and then everything that is good and precious in our life, including any financial blessing. Thus, giving it back to him is just as if your mother made you a wonderful dessert and asked you as she freely gave it to you without stipulating if she could have a bite. You’d be crazy to tell her no. And we’d be just as crazy to not give back to God.
Giving is An Act of Love
It’s a natural, practical way to be the hands and feet of Christ on this earth. 1 John 3:17 says, “But whoever has the world's goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” When I think about Christian and non-Christian people in different parts of the world, through no fault of their own, having to work 10 times harder than any American to make 1/100th of what any American on minimum wage will make – that motivates me to not spend the next dollar on something that has no eternal impact when I can bless that brother or sister? This is why you should keep a $20 bill in your pocket and find a real practical way throughout the week to give it to someone in need. If you don’t find or run into one, consider that a sign from God that you should give that to a ministry that serves third-world countries. A favorite of mine is World Vision, which helps sponsor a child in poverty. They help that child and their community stand tall from poverty through the name of Jesus Christ. I know each week, I’ll be giving away $20 in some way, shape or form.
Helps Gain Eternal Perspective & Gods Promises
The following two I think of as a brother and sister benefit of giving. First, it helps me to gain an eternal perspective, which can be hard to do in a wealthy country. Jesus said in Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” Paul in 1 Timothy, 6:18-19 says, Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Second, God has promised me a blessing for giving. In Matthew 25:23, Jesus said, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Now I should be very clear here. I’m not talking about a Joel Osteen type of love God, give to the church, and you’ll be happy, cured of cancer, and free to live your best life now! That giving mentality is undoubtedly from the pits of hell. I’m talking about your giving storing up eternal value for you, which you can’t quantify, and that’s ok, and where God quantifies it as much or little, I should be fine. Just as the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 – help me to not be like the servants that started early and were given just as much as the servant that started in the 11th hour. That’s not my decision, but God owns it all anyway, correct? I should count myself blessed to be part of His kingdom.
Where Should I Give?
You might have asked, where should I be giving to? The Bible is clear that giving should be given to the local Gospel-preaching church. You should support your local church to meet the needs of your local body of believers, the community they operate in, and for the furtherance of the Gospel and God’s love with that said community. As mentioned earlier, we should look for ways to give to the needy within our communities and the world. With the technology we have been blessed by through excellent entrepreneurs like Elon Musk (I love that dude!), we can now provide giving halfway around the world in seconds. Finally, we should give to further the Great Commission. Find a missionary, perhaps affiliated with your church, perhaps not. I have supported missionaries like The Starkey’s in Haiti, Daniel & Katie Hackett in Mongolia, and Ben & Jessie Simmons in a part of the world we can’t mention.
Economic Benefits of Giving
As a financial planner, I’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the economic benefits of giving. While not the reason we ever start to think about giving, there are reasons from a monetary perspective that can improve your cash flow and tax situation. The most predominant thing we typically engage clients with is their required minimum distributions. Quit taking those, paying taxes on them, and letting them sit in your bank account. Do a Qualified Charitable Distribution and use that money for Kingdom purposes: your church, the needy or for the Great Commission. I wrote all about that here: TAX REDUCTION IN RETIREMENT - QUALIFIED CHARITABLE DISTRIBUTION (QCD) (whitakerwealth.com). Of course, many of you are too young to think about this particular strategy today, but it does help you to realize there are economic benefits to giving.
Finally, as I think about my own personal thoughts on giving – I must admit – that I am a work in progress. But that’s why Kingdom Advisor training is so necessary! If you want to be good at something, like giving, that you’re not good at, you must be intentional, as we discussed above, and you constantly remind yourself of the overarching truth that governs all of this. GOD OWNS IT ALL. I need that reminder in my life in the morning, afternoon, and evening! I hope this was helpful as we together strive to be better members of God’s Kingdom, not the kingdom of this earth.