Christians often debate the level at which God wants us to give. Is it north or south of 10% (e.g. are we still under the tithe)? Is the calculation based on our gross or net income? A favorite answer of mine is, “Would you rather God bless you on your gross or net?”
Set aside that question and instead consider this: Do you have a plan for allocating the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars you WILL give away during your lifetime?
Here’s the math. If you work from age 22 to 65 earning $50,000 per year, and you give away 10% of your gross income (opting to give generously), that equals lifetime charitable giving of $215,000. If you work to age 70 (better plan on it) and earn $100,000 annually, you’ll give away $480,000.
Now compare your estimated giving with the thoughtfulness of your giving plan.
<Moment of Reflection>
You may be asking…
- Does God really want me to give away that much?
- Where did all my previous charitable gifts go?
- How will I decide where to direct my remaining gifts?
Sounds like you need a giving platform from which to make your future giving decisions?
Let me lay down a few planks that may serve as the foundation to your giving platform.
Plank #1: Live to Give
If you claim Christ as your savior you should want to give away 10% of your income.1 However, fear or legalism should not be your motivation. Rather, you should desire this out of a deep gratitude for what God has done in your life. Gross or net? You decide for yourself.
Operating under a principle of generous giving will likely require you to challenge your spending. Deciding to increase your standard of giving may require you to modify your standard of living. For one suggestion on how to reduce your spending see my recent blog A Recurring Problem.
Plank #2: Find a Passion
Since you’ll be giving away a quarter to half million dollars, shouldn’t it be to something that excites you?
For more on this, I’d encourage you to take a moment to read another post of mine, Turn Nickels and Dimes into Radical Change. The simple three-part solution I propose could dramatically enhance the impact of your giving.
Plank #3: Give Seasonally
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a season for everything. Giving is no different. Although you should give through all seasons, to whom and how much you give may change seasonally.
Much like farming, there are seasons for: planting (selecting new charities in which to invest), fertilizing (concentrating your giving with specific non-profits), pruning (cutting some of the charities you support), and harvesting (witnessing the non-profits you support positively impact the lives of those they serve).
Don’t worry if your giving to date has been haphazard! Start construction today on your own giving platform.
As you become more deliberate you’ll stop asking, “How much am I supposed to give?” As you increase your standard of giving and follow your passions, you’ll instead be asking, “How can I find ways to give even more during this next season of giving?”
If you’ve identified additional planks in your giving platform, please share a comment.
1 Gen 28:22; Lev 27:30, Deut 26:13-14; Mat 23:23