Give It All Away
The concept of giving has constantly been pressing on my mind, not necessarily to tell others, but to implement it into my own daily activities. Because I feel an urgency to implement this practice into my own life, I feel compelled to share that sense of urgency with you. We all know the old adage, "It's more rewarding to give than to receive," but what does that even mean? And why does it mean whatever it is that it means?
On p. 163 of his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan writes, "...when Jesus said 'love your neighbor as yourself,' He wasn't kidding. If we really want to love our neighbors as ourselves, then it makes sense that we spend at least as much on them as we do ourselves." The line, along with other pastoral teachings, has resonated with me deeply. Loving our neighbors as ourselves pertains to our time as well as to our finances, and presents a very large challenge. It doesn't mean I'm going to give half of my everything to the International Justice Mission, though there'd be nothing wrong with that. But it means I'll think of others when determining how to use my resources.
To give 50% of my finances, I may give 10% as a tithe, 15% in insurances and investments (for my wife, kids, parents, etc.), 15% to charities and my alma mater, 10% to food and gifts for others, or any combination of allocations other than to my personal bank accounts. Living on 50% of what I earn for all my bills, gas, food, and entertainment expenses may be difficult, but it teaches me a lot about prioritization, as well as general money management. I won't tell you where to focus your giving, but I will encourage you to find more beneficial places for spending than on personal comforts.
God calls us to give 10% of everything we receive back to Him. 10% is the definition of "tithe," but it does not mean that anyone's giving (to church in this case) should be limited to that specific percentage. If you'd rather your tithe to church be a higher portion of your giving, go for it! The purpose of the 10% is to make us realize our deep-seeded dependence on God for everything.
Let's be real, 10% of income can be a large chunk of what we need to survive at any point in our lives, which means 50% is massive! But the goal is to establish dependence upon Him for our needs, and if we follow Him, even when we're struggling, He will bless us in incredible and unsuspecting ways. I've experienced it time and time again, and it is amazing what kind of love He expresses to we who do not deserve it.
The largest lesson I've learned is that I cannot always do everything by myself without fail (as much as I might try or think I can). I need to depend on something greater than myself. For me, giving 10% of my income back to God teaches me humility and dependence upon others for prosperity and growth rather than on pride and an independent lifestyle. I've been blessed so much through it.
That's finances. What about time? If you spend half of your waking hours actively pursuing the good of others, you're whole mindset changes to one of service, and that's a wonderful thing. Take care of you and your family first; be wise about that. But make sure you take time to serve others. Whether it's discussing concerns over a cup of coffee, fighting human trafficking, or using your business for customers'/clients' best interest, find some area of service to others where you can find personal fulfillment and renewal.
What are some more immediate benefits to giving? And giving 50%, to boot! Financially, there's always tax benefits and recognitions. With giving your time, there's a sense of prestige within a community for caring service. But these are not the most important things to focus on.
If you want to have a life filled with growth and prosperity, giving is vital. After graduating college, I met with 25-30 well-established individuals to simply talk about life and what to do with it, and the consensus for how to be simultaneously happy and successful was to do things for reasons other than personal gain. Sounds kind of hypocritical, doesn't it? Do something for someone else, and you'll be better off for it? The wise have spoken.
"It all comes back to you much more than what you gave." Now, giving 50% of time and resources is not necessarily what everybody should be doing or can do. I understand that, and so would most. In fact, I'm not even doing that myself. Maybe I should be, maybe not. At this transitional point in my life, the challenge before me is to operate wisely and efficiently so that I can succeed at the challenge to give 50% away. One of my 10-year goals is actually to be in a place where I'm giving 51% of my time and resources to areas outside myself. I'm sure the goal and ability is different for everyone reading this, and it's bound to change for me a thousand times, so please don't feel like you have to follow that.
Give less! Give more! Give with purpose.
It is good to give away one's own time and money in order to establish a needed dependence upon God and a mental framework of selfless love that will, in turn, result in unlimited blessings, spiritual and communal growth, and prosperity for an individual and their family.