It’s tax time. As you wade through the forms, documents, statements, and punch numbers into the computer, write them down, or take them to your tax pro, you will track down your charitable giving information. Usually comparing this year’s tax information to last year’s is a part of the process. So, how does your giving stack up? Here are some things to keep in mind.
- In the Bible giving is usually linked to income. Whether it’s an Old Testament tithe, or a New Testament offering, it was proportional and linked to income. 1 Corinthians 16:2 says to set aside a gift according to our income, or prosperity. So, when it comes to taxes, you see how much you made, and how much you gave. If the amount you made went up, the amount you gave normally should have gone up, too. Is that true for you? Make sure you have a look. Conversely, if your income has gone down, there is no shame in giving less. The Bible is clear that our giving is to be proportional to our income, and doesn’t have to increase every year, unless God has prospered us greater this year compared to last.
- Extravagant giving has a place, but sharing “some” regularly is perhaps better. I love Proverbs 22:9, when it says “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.” It doesn’t say “all of his food.” It doesn’t say “all of his money.” It says “some.” And it says this person is generous, and blessed, for only sharing some of his food. Yes, giving can and should be sacrificial, and have an element of faith driven risk to it, but don’t let an inability to extravagantly give keep you from giving at all. If you give “some” the Scripture calls you “generous” and “blessed.” Rejoice in that.
- Have a diversified portfolio of giving. Perhaps think of giving in these categories: 1) Giving to the local church. This is our first and primary call for giving. Shoot for 10% or more of your gross income. 2) Give to missions organizations and missionaries. 3) Give to the poor. Literally. Give to the poor financially, through clothing donations, and through gifts. 4) Give to causes. Not every charitable gift has to be directed to a church, Christian ministry, or missions organization.
- Related to above, give away stuff, regardless of tax write-offs. Bless someone by putting something valuable that you don’t need on Craigslist for free. Just give it away. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, literally. If you don’t have a chair to sit in, or a bed to sleep on, that gift is a huge blessing to the recipient. Give toys to the nursery & 2 year old toy drive at church. And yes, pack up those boxes for Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other thrift stores and give your stuff away.
In closing, I recently listened to a sermon by Christian thinker, Os Guinness. He sited statistics that sound familiar, that the world gives away just under 3% of their income to charity…and so do Christians. Your tax software might give you a “flag” or an “alert” if you give more than is normal. That’s one alert that should be going off on all of our tax prep software.