Give Until It Hurts
“Give until it hurts” might describe most of us if we think of giving as an obligation instead of a privilege.
The secret to effective giving is understanding ownership. If we think that everything we have is ours, and that anything we give is evidence of our magnificent generosity, then we tend to be stingy as we pat ourselves on the back. That’s human nature.
On the other hand, giving can be joyful when we recognize that God owns everything and that we are stewards of his bounty.
“Indeed, heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it,” states Deuteronomy 10:14.
Likewise, Psalm 89:11 proclaims: “The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.”
The Bible contains many other verses along these lines, including the famous phrasing in Psalm 50:10 about the Lord owning “the cattle on a thousand hills.”
The Meaning of Stewardship
So where does this leave us? In a very good place. We are highly privileged stewards of God’s mighty creation and everything that comes from it, including the products of our own time and labor.
As stewards, we work best with an attitude of gratitude. Knowing that we cannot accomplish anything without God’s help tempers our tendency to cry, “It’s mine!” which begins as soon as we can speak our first words.
One of the most important lessons to convey to children is the power of generosity. Forced sharing is not enough; they need to feel the joy that comes from giving to others. The same goes for giving back to God. None of this comes easily, given our tendency to cling to “what’s ours.” Praise for acts of generosity can go a long way to reinforce the notion that it really is better to give than to receive.
Some Revealing Statistics
Here are some other interesting stats:
- Only 3 to 5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing.
- When surveyed, 17% of Americans state that they regularly tithe.
- For families making $75k+, 1% of them gave at least 10% in tithing.
- The average giving by adults who attend U.S. Protestant churches is about $17 a week.
- 37% of regular church attendees and Evangelicals don’t give money to church.
One study showed that American households with incomes under $10,000 gave 2.3% of their income to religious organizations, whereas those earning more than $70,000 gave religious organizations 1.2%.
The more we earn, it seems, the more we take credit. But God wants us to give, and give generously.
Exodus 23:15 states: “No one is to appear before me empty handed.”
Although the Bible is clear about the value of tithing, that is, giving 10 percent of one’s income, it’s just the beginning.
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30)
As Biblically Responsible Investing pioneer Art Ally writes, “Tithing begins as a duty, but can become a delight, leading to joyful voluntary giving.”
In Proverbs 3:9, we’re told to “honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first-fruits of all your crops.”
Giving beyond that is encouraged: “All…who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings” above and beyond the first fruits.
God Gives Back, but Beware the ‘Prosperity Gospel’
Often, we hear about people who thought they could not afford to tithe, given their financial situation, and how, after beginning to tithe, their financial picture brightened.
Some people find that the more they give, the more they get back. R.G. LeTourneau, who made a fortune by inventing earth-moving machines, eventually was giving 90 percent of his income. As he put it, “I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back. But God has a bigger shovel.”
God honors our sacrifices, and not always in the ways we expect. It’s a mistake to think that if we give a certain amount, we will get back a certain amount, with heavenly interest. Even though that often happens, we must avoid the cold, transactional formula best known as the “prosperity gospel,” which boils down to giving more so we can be richer ourselves.
There is nothing particularly Godly about being rich or poor. When Jesus blesses whose who are “poor in spirit,” He means that those people know they depend wholly on God and are not fooled by the materialism sold to us by this world. They don’t think better of themselves than they should.
There is one major advantage, however, to having more money beyond the amount necessary to meet our needs; we can give more to help the poor, advance the Kingdom and make this a better world.
 Nonprofitsource.com, at: https://nonprofitssource.com/online-giving-statistics/
 Cited in “Christianity Today,” December 5, 2008, and in Art Ally, “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success,” (Maitland, Florida: Timothy Partners, Inc., 2017), p. 83.
 Ibid, p. 78.
 Ibid, p. 85.
Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners. Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success.”
Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact. Learn more at timothyplan.com.
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