Thursday, April 24, 2008

SOME THOUGHTS ON GIVING

The other day Tyler asked me a question that probably every believer has wondered about. He knew his income tax refund would be coming soon. So, he asked, "Am I supposed to tithe that check?" The rationale is, "If I already tithed my salary, then realistically that refund has already been tithed."

I really appreciated his question because it gave me an opportunity to teach him some important lessons on giving. His question really is no different from the ever-present "gross or net" question. If you think about it, at the root of these questions the thought process goes something like this: "How little can I give and it still count in God's eyes?" I know that may come across tough, but be honest. Isn't that what we're trying to do when we ask those questions?

Instead, we should always be looking for ways to give more. The Proverbs writers says, "A generous man will himself be blessed." Trying to figure out the bottom threshold of giving does not constitute generosity. Income tax refunds are an excellent way to give more. The incentive almost every American will receive in another month or so ($600, $1200 for a couple)--isn't that a great way to demonstrate generosity? I know George W. wants you to go buy stuff with it. But I say look for opportunities to give first and then spend.

As gasoline approaches $4 a gallon, every family is scrambling trying to figure out what adjustments need to be implemented to make ends meet. Unfortunately, many see the tithe as discretionary; so they decide to cut back on giving. From God's perspective, he never qualified options on when we should reduce our giving. The tithe is valid even if gas hits $10 a gallon.

The wrong question is: Lord, how much do I have to give? The right approach is: Lord, show me more ways I can give. That's the heart of the generous person. And that's the one who truly will live a blessed life.


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