Charitable Giving - Why and How

Charitable giving is often like the pieces of a puzzle.

  • How can I focus on stewardship when I can’t get one car paid off before I need another one?

  • Am I giving enough if I tithe my income?

  • When should I sell an asset and donate the proceeds? When is it best to donate the asset instead of selling it?

  • Is it wise stewardship to transfer assets to a charitable remainder trust?

  • If I use a revocable living trust, will I save income or estate taxes?

  • Is it wise to leave the assets in my Individual Retirement Account to my family or should they be given to my favorite charity at my passing?

Puzzling? Yes. How can I fit the pieces together? Here are answers to many of your questions on charitable giving. It is a starting point for your quest to be a better steward.

The starting and the finish line for giving? It all belongs to God. Not just your money, your home, your car, but everything! You cannot lose anything that you give to God since He owns it all (1 Cor. 4:7).

What should we give? We must give ourselves to the Lord first. The Apostle Paul commended the Macedonian Christians not only for their generous giving but because they "gave themselves first to the Lord" (2 Cor. 8:5).

Why should we give? God wants us to give from a willing and obedient heart. Our attitude is the key. "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).

Every time we give sacrificially, we give a little of our selfishness away. And when we give, others are blessed and God is glorified.

When should we give? Give God His portion first. Why? Because we are to give God "the supremacy" in everything (Col. 1:18).

How much should we give? Give liberally. "Whoever sows generously will also reap generously" (2 Cor. 9:6). Since it all belongs to Him, giving Him only a tithe seems so insignificant. It is impossible to place a limit on how much we should give when we are investing in things of eternal value.

Ask God to show you how He wants you to be generous with your time, your talents, and your resources. This kind of obedience is the key to freedom, satisfaction, and contentment.

How should we give? As we are obedient to God, giving our time, talents, and financial resources can become a natural expression of our relationship with Him.

Giving is not limited to the check or cash that we place in the church offering plate each Sunday. That is just the beginning.

Giving non-cash assets is not limited to the wealthy. Planned or deferred giving is not restricted to those nearing or past retirement age. They are for everyone!

Giving doesn’t just happen. Most of us don’t give as much as we should because we don’t plan our giving. You may need to make some tough financial decisions in order to have the freedom to give more.

You may need to reduce your debt load or opt for a simpler lifestyle. You might need a budget. It will certainly mean having a priority list, planning and keeping records. Remember, you are handling God’s money.

How about giving to family? The Ten Commandments that God gave Moses included the admonition to honor our fathers and mothers. Surely this includes assisting our parents financially when they are in need.

Giving to children is in keeping with scriptural guidelines if we do not interfere with their lives or try to provide a financial buffer for them.

More important than giving money to our children is imparting sound money management principles to them.

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