In the United States, the end of the year often means people's thoughts turn to income taxes which are due in the spring. If you are going to reduce that bill or even get a refund, you have to take steps now to do so. A favorite way to cut your tax bill is giving to non-profit organizations such as churches and charities. You give and your gift is a tax write-off. It's a win-win situation right? Perhaps not...
I am certainly not suggesting that people do not claim their charitable deductions on their income taxes. What I am suggesting however is that when we give, it is important to look at our motivation. Are we giving because we care or are we giving so we can get a tax write-off?
I have often heard the people say they would give to CB or give more to CB if it were a non-profit. Why? The only reason I can think of is because they can write it off on their taxes. Is that a good reason not to give? In my book, no. If we give solely for the purpose of what we get out of it, are we truly giving? The world may say so, but is the world's opinion the one that really matters? What does God have to say about giving?
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace God gave the churches in Macedonia. They have been tested by great troubles, and they are very poor. But they gave much because of their great joy. I can tell you that they gave as much as they were able and even more than they could afford. No one told them to do it. But they begged and pleaded with us to let them share in this service for God's people. And they gave in a way we did not expect: They first gave themselves to the Lord and to us. This is what God wants. So we asked Titus to help you finish this special work of grace since he is the one who started it. You are rich in everything, in faith, in speaking, in knowledge, in truly wanting to help, and in the love you learned from us. In the same way, be strong also in the grace of giving.
I am not commanding you to give. But I want to see if your love is true by comparing you with others that really want to help. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Christ was rich, but for you he became poor so that by his becoming poor you might become rich.
This is what I think you should do: Last year you were the first to want to give, and you were the first who gave. So now finish the work you started. Then your "doing" will be equal to your "wanting to do." Give from what you have. If you want to give, your gift will be accepted. It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have. We do not want you to have troubles while other people are at ease, but we want everything to be equal. At this time you have plenty. What you have can help others who are in need. Then later, when they have plenty, they can help you when you are in need, and all will be equal. As it is written in the Scriptures, "The person who gathered more did not have too much, nor did the person who gathered less have too little." 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (NCV)
I am a firm believer that if someone truly desires to give (not so they will be noticed but because they want to give), it will not matter to them about whether they get a "tax break" or not. They will give simply because they love God and desire to bless others as God has blessed them. Call me old fashioned but I believe if you give in order to get something for yourself, it is not a gift. To me a true gift is something freely given not for your benefit but for the benefit of someone else.
As we close out the year, I challenge you to ask the question I have asked myself. "Lord, CB has been such a blessing to me this year! What can I give in return so it can continue to bless others around the world?" I have often asked myself this question over the past year and do you know what? Every month God has enabled me to exceed the minimum He has laid upon my heart.
Ironically at the close of the year we focus on what others can give us. I challenge you to think about what you can give to others and prayerfully ask God if He would have you give to others around the world via CB.
A great reminder that the motive of giving is a sacrificial love for others. One of my favorite verses on giving is the example from the Macedonian believers in 2 Corinthians 8 you quoted above. There are so many great principles of giving exemplified in that passage. Generosity is never negated by lack of finances or our hardships in life. In fact, it is always a joy!