Saturday, October 10, 2009

To Give or Not to Give -That is The Question

Once again I have been confronted with the question of God's mind with regard to giving. While teaching the New Focus money management class for Westown Jubilee Housing, students are asked to go through a list of money beliefs they might hold*. Every belief on the list is incorrect. The point of the exercise is to show students that your money training (what you learned from your family) + your money beliefs = your money behavior.

We did the exercise and then I told the group that anything they had checked off was false. One woman had a real problem with that as she strongly held to two of the beliefs. One was "Money is the root of all evil." Quickly the class was able to convince her that no, money is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is according to I Timothy 6:10.

The next belief she was willing to fight for even with an example was, "Good people help others, even if they really can't afford it." With her example, giving her cigarette money to someone in need, I was able to convince her that she did not have to go into debt or not pay a bill in order to give that money.

My guess about the New Testament principles of giving would be that we are not to store up money but to give freely. But what about an emergency fund? Retirement? I know how Don and I tend to do things, but I am curious as to how you guide your decisions about giving. I can see scriptures on both sides.

*This sheet of beliefs is taken from Dave Treul's MSU Extension Class on money management.


  1. As far as I'm concerned, Ontology trumps Teleology every time.

  2. Hello Corpsmanche,

    I would probably hold this opinion if I didn't believe in God. ;)

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  4. I hope Barb will be able to post what she emailed me. I get updates to Get Rich Slowly and this arrived to my inbox recently. I read it this morning and while I couldn't relate to it completely, I think it is still worthy of consideration.

  5. Nothing was said about the tithe (10th of what we earn). Of course we may give beyond that if able.
    Another way to give is to take another approach to purchasing, such as delaying shopping/buying by choice or necessity, choosing to be thankful for what we already have (when in fact it is more than enough!) and denying the urge to be 'cool' and up-to-date. These are ideas you are very familiar with Karen.
    A book that is interesting to me because of my Dutch heritage is "The Embarassment of Riches".

  6. Trudy, I went to amazon to look at that book. I think that should be read by all Dutch people.

    I'm not sure a "tithe" is a New Testament principle. I think it is a bigger idea. More sacrificial giving. (sermon on the mount). We do "tithe" but then are we "off the hook" and can keep all the rest?

    How do we decide? I guess that is what I was driving at. There are soooo many verses in the Bible about being wise and certainly financial responsibility would fall under that umbrella. Then there are so many verses about giving and the poor. And then balancing that would with a verse like "the poor you always have with you."

    Thanks for sharing everyone. More illumination coveted.

  7. Like everything else, doesn't there need to be a balance between being a good steward of our resources, planning for the future, and giving sacrificially? I'm currently looking at my retirement finances...and I struggle with trust when I look too far ahead (you know, what if God doesn't come through this time)!!! Then I look back and REMEMBER...a Biblical concept, I believe! One example: I still cannot tell you to this day how I made it financially through my Grad School days, but somehow God brought me through it without debt. So, I must plan the best I can, understanding that all I have really is His, and only He knows the future.

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  9. And now that I've figured this out... :-)
    I read the article at Get Rich Slowly, and a question has been nagging in the back of my mind... Do we only help the poor by giving money--do we only give sacrificially with our money? How do we determine when giving money is the best thing for the recipient and when it's best for the recipient that we NOT give money, lest we get in the way of what God might have for the heart of the "needy" one?

  10. Barb, glad you were able to post. I would say that I am where you are. I am all about balance.
    That said, I just wonder if God wants me to go deeper. If it's not about the tithe and it's about giving sacrificially, what if what I give doesn't "cost me" because part of my journey has been to simplify. So when I give, it wasn't like I was planning to use that money to go out to dinner.

    Maybe one answer is that God expects us to do something about the needs he places in front of us. Maybe we are to meet that need with time, money, possessions, or just network them to someone who can meet the need. Just not turn our backs or say "be filled" "be warmed".

  11. Yup, I hear you Barb with your last sentence. I find living in a poor area that people definitely know how to work the system. Sometimes we are just enabling them to continue their poor choices when we throw money at the situation. Wisdom is required.