Did you give to churches, Christian ministries, and other non-profit organizations and agencies last year? Did you give more or less in 2018 and if so, why? What motivates you to give and what system do you use to determine which non-profits should benefit from your generosity?
The annual Giving USA report, released this week, reveals that both corporations and foundations increased their charitable giving in 2018, yet total estimated giving fell by 1.7% after inflation. The total given? $427.7 billion.
The report is based on data provided to Giving USA by donors, fund-raisers, and non-profit organizations. So why the drop?
Many are pointing to a 2017 tax law which nearly doubled the standard deduction to $24,000 for a couple. That change meant it was more advantageous for millions of taxpayers to file using the lump sum deduction, rather than tallying up all their tax breaks from mortgage interest payments, state and local taxes, and charitable gifts.
In 2017, 46.5 million taxpayers itemized. In 2018, only 18 million. About 88% of filers last year took the standard deduction. Did you?
Let’s ask ourselves a few questions here:
Why did individual Americans give less in 2018 than they did in 2017? Was there an economic depression? Was it because they were not itemizing deductions and therefore did not see the advantage of charitable giving? Were millions of Americans really only giving to their church or other charities for the tax deduction?
Let’s pause a moment and honestly ask the question: why do I give?
For Christians, the first answer to the “why give” question is not primarily financial. It’s spiritual. Giving reflects the nature of God, in whose image we are made and to whose glory we now live.
We are made in the image of a God who gives. John 3:16 makes that truth plainly clear. God gave out of love and we, in turn, give to others in love as well.
I think of Godly giving along three thought paths:
- God made me, owns me, blesses me, and sends me to make His Kingdom known on earth as it is right now in Heaven.
- Heaven is real and to make the King and His Kingdom known, people need to experience grace – overwhelming, all-sufficient, merciful, abundant – life.
- God’s got more than enough and God will take care of me because He loves me. I don’t need to hoard or worry or be stingy. I can freely give knowing that God’s got me – in plenty and in want, I am content.
A few texts to ponder here:
I Corinthians 4:7 reminds us that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God. “What do you have that you did not receive?” It all belongs to God – every square inch: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,” writes the psalmist, “the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). And if He owns it all, is He not also sovereign over it all?
Giving is an act of faith and is not to be compelled. “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Giving is only a responsibility in so far as it is my response to God’s gracious generosity toward me.
Lists of verses related to money have been aggregated elsewhere and teachings on stewardship abound. Suffice it here to say if our motivation to give is a tax deduction, are we rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s?
Here at Faith Radio, we are able share the gospel message because of generous gifts from our friends like you. Thanks in advance for sharing out of the Lord’s abundance!