Giving Doesn’t Make any Cents

Giving is kind of like flossing.

Everybody agrees it’s a good thing to do, but hardly anybody actually does it. The less you do it, the less you worry about it, until once every few months when you’re reminded that you really should do it more often.

On the face of it, giving doesn’t make financial sense. You’re giving up a good chunk of your income and detracting from your net worth. You’re letting go of money that could be saved or invested, and you’ll never see it again.

And yet, in my opinion, nothing you do with your money could be more valuable or important. You see, if you never give, you’ll never really be happy with your money. If you never give, you’ll never be content. If you never give, you’ll be tempted to think you can find your happiness, value, freedom, and peace in money. As much as I appreciate money, it can provide none of these things. You’ll always feel like you’re chasing after something you can never attain.

Money tells us a lot about our core philosophy of life. Show me your bank statement, and I’ll show you what you care about. I could tell if you love entertainment, sports, eating out, parties, travel, and the like. But could I tell about your love of people? Would I see financial contributions into the lives of those around you? Would I be able to tell you’re enthusiastic about changing some part of the world, or would I just see personal expenses?

For us, personally, as Christians, my wife and I believe strongly in the practice of tithing (i.e. giving ten percent of our income to the church). A solid church that manages money well will allocate these funds toward helping the local community and helping needy communities overseas. I can tell you from experience that I have tithed since I got my first minimum wage job at 16 and have never missed that 10% of my paycheck.

Even when I was barely scraping by and spending $400 a month of my measly income in gas to commute to work and school, I never once regretted my giving. I never thought I should have skipped it that month. Fast food, entertainment, and gadgets have caused me regret in my budget, but never giving.

In addition to this 10%, my wife and I find tremendous joy in sponsoring a child through Compassion International. For just $38 a month, this organization provides kids in impoverished countries with nutritious food, education, skills, love, and spiritual teaching. Yesterday we received a letter in the mail from our little six-year-old Juan with a hand-written note and some crayon artwork to post on our wall. The letter was a wonderful reminder that every day that I go to work I am not just supporting myself, but I am helping support a small child with big needs.

Would you join me in challenging your giving? Whatever your level is now, let’s “kick it up a notch,” as chef Emeril would say. For us, we want to introduce a “spontaneous giving” category into our budget, which we can use to give generously to anyone with extraordinary needs throughout the month. This could be a single mom in our church, a waiter at a restaurant who could use a lavish tip, or a missionary in need of funding. Think about something that excites you to contribute toward. If you don’t have money to give right now, volunteer your time. To name just a few possibilities, there are organizations that:

Whatever you’re pumped up about, go with it and start giving something! Your heart will follow your money.