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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Give Like No One Else

Tuesday night was our final session of Financial Peace University. Dani and I began facilitating the class back in January with almost 60 attendees. During that time it's been very exciting to watch people go through some of the same realizations about money that we had, have new realizations, and commit to life changes that, prior to the class, they never would have considered.

The final lesson was Dave Ramsey's most potent one yet. It was all about giving, a concept that doesn't really make sense some times when your main goal is to save. It feels like you need to hang on to your money even tighter if you want to keep it, but Dave says just the opposite.

"You can do everything we teach you and you will prosper, but if you don't understand this lesson you will never have financial peace," he says.

The "great misunderstanding," Dave calls it, is the mistaken belief that the way to have more is to hold on tightly. But he says you need to learn to manage money with an open hand. This is the method that God demonstrates in his word, a selfless, servant-minded nature of giving that puts others before yourself. The Bible talks about money more often than it talks about love and grace. That alone should make it pretty obvious to us that the way we handle our money is extremely important to God.

So how do we give? These are some guidelines that Dave suggests, that I've found extremely helpful.

  • A tithe is a tenth of your increase. People will argue over whether or not it's from your net increase or your gross increase, to which I say, "Does it really matter?" I mean, think about it: less than 4% of church-going Christians give to their church. According to recent statistics, evangelical giving is the lowest it's been since the Great Depression. So who cares if it's the net or the gross? Just give! But if you're curious about what the Bible has to say on the topic, Proverbs 3:9 says to give from your "first fruits." Not after the government has taken its share. Not after you've paid your debts. The very first earnings you get, give a tenth to God.

  • Offerings are different than tithing. Offerings are giving above and beyond that initial 10%, and should be given from any surplus income you have.

  • Give cheerfully, not expecting anything in return. Give 10%. Give 20% Whatever. But don't expect God to give you a bigger pat on the back because you gave more than the other guy. Understand that giving is a form of worship. It's not a break between the singing and the sermon at your church. It's not intermission. Giving should be done as a way of praising and thanking our Lord and Savior for his many blessings.

Keep pinchin' :-)

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