Have you ever ran through that dilemma in your head about upgrading your cell phone or giving towards a charity? What about blowing through $100-200 over an evening out with friends but at church the next day, the most you can break off when the buckets are passed...is a five-spot?
Back at my weekly Sunday personal-development-and-moral-recharging-station (CHURCH) I jotted down some notes from a teaching in the Bible where Paul was documenting his experiences in Jerusalem. Paul, who is a pretty big deal in spreading the Christian faith and author of multiple books in the New Testament, quantified the character of giving. (Romans 15:26-27)
In a nutshell, it is not so much about the cause you are financially supporting, but the character of which you give! Think about THAT the next time you buy tickets to a fundraiser or drop $10 for a "networking event" that benefits a non-profit.
But Paul takes it further that just "doing it".
Gratitude Leads to Generosity
This is always a good one to explain to your kids why they should be thankful for what they have. It's a parental morality check even moreso. Once you are thankful for what you have compared to what you are missing (yes, there's always someone worse off) than it sure is easy to put your money, time and resources where your mouth is.
Regardless of your situation, there is always an opportunity to give. After all, a closed hand is not prepared to receive anything. (II Corinthians 8:1-5)
But what about getting a "return on your investment in giving"? What the ROI on that?
Well, Paul mentions that you get BACK, what you GIVE OUT. More importantly, it is giving without regretting it or feeling reluctant or pressured about it too. Interesting balance, eh? (II Corinthians 9:6)
I've always liked, "We make a living by what we get, but we build a life by what we GIVE!"
But no money to give, you say? You can give of your time, your experiences and open doors for someone.
Consider this Formula
How should we then budget our paychecks to be prepared to generously give? I know it may seem hard to "budget" but give this formula a shot. It's what I tell my kids. When they receive money:
Give (10%), Save (10%) and Spend (10%)...yep, Give it, Save it, Spend it.
And remember, give cheerfully! (II Corinthians 9:7)
Where does cheerfulness come from? Gratitude...that we have been given what we do not deserve. As I ponder this, I think of where I could have been if my parents in the 1960s did not have the guts to pack their bags and come to America. I most likely would not be blogging about this on a Sunday night with a cigar in hand with my MAC marinating outside on a balmly 80 degree Chicago evening.
I'd probably be dreading having to go to work the next day at a call center earning $200 a month for my family.
Bottom line: Giving and greed cannot co-exist. Even better...living in a state of grace which is willing to limit my own personal desire(s) so that I can continue to be grateful and find ways to give back instead.
After all, God gave me a gift I cannot ever pay back and never deserved in the first place. What an amazing example, eh? (John 3:16)