Why Do Christians Give? Philanthropy or Christianity?
Why do Christians give? It is a simple question, yet the answer provided to many Christians is often vague at best. Many Christians hear a variety of reasons for giving such as: “God has been generous to you so you should be generous in return,” “It belongs to God and you are just redistributing it,” “There is joy in giving,” “It will teach you many spiritual lessons,” or “It is a good thing to help out your fellow man”.
These reasons are all truthful, but I fear they miss the point. I have trouble separating or seeing the difference between these explanations and “Philanthropy.” What separates the Christian’s call to give from a mere desire to improve the welfare of our “fellow man”? Is there any difference between the two?
My pastor, a great Bible teacher, often quotes an old theologian who said something to the effect of: “If it is not about Jesus, it is not Christianity.” I will do my best to answer the question of giving in this context:
Our giving must point back to Christ.
In the flesh, in sin, we are TAKERS. Since the Garden of Eden, we are out to get whatever we can for ourselves. Even our very acts of giving can be corrupted by self-serving motives. Christ’s life in us reverses this trend. We become GIVERS when in close communion with His Spirit. Not just givers of money, but everything: time, energy, love, talents, emotions, and on and on. We live to bless others. In the flesh, we are like a sponge, soaking up all we can for ourselves. Even when every possible avenue is saturated, perhaps even drowning, we still seek to absorb more.
Christians give because Christ is in them. Simple as that.
In Christ, we begin see the water start running in the opposite direction, away from ourselves. We actually begin to see our heart and soul believe: “It is better to give than to receive ” (Acts 20:35). Instead of a sponge: “He who believes in Me…From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) As Christ gains the victory in the hearts of men, their desire for generosity, to bless others before themselves cannot be contained. Christ said: “where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) When He, whose life, death, and resurrection lived out His saying: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13) consumes our hearts we cannot help but to follow His example. To live to give and bless others becomes a sacred joy when Christ has His proper abode in our heart.
If I am honest, I don’t know if I have ever met a godly man that was stingy. (Notice, I did not say “rich”. I have met many godly men that were rich also.) The more I study the life of Christ and inspirational men and women of faith, the more I see that the spirit stirred with the love of God cannot help but to live a life of Generosity. Those in keeping with the fountain of Living Water feel suffocated by selfishness. They are compelled to live and give as Christ. They are transformed by His Spirit and the act becomes as natural as breathing.
In conclusion, Christians give because Christ is in them. Simple as that.
Our Savior is the essence of generosity. He is alive in us and the desire to bless others is only a natural expression of His power in our hearts. Certainly, our giving respects God’s ownership, brings us joy, teaches us things, and helps those less fortunate than us, but these are only branches not the Vine. Christ, the very author of “It is better to give than to receive” is continuing His work and manifesting Himself and His power through His people. This, dear believer, is Christianity not philanthropy.
This is an article by Rob Kuban, author of the book on Christians & Money, Dollars And Doctrine: What Does The Bible Actually Say About Money?. http://www.biblemoneymatters.com/why-do-christians-give-philanthropy-or-christianity/
NOTE: Rob Kuban notably says nothing about the motivation for giving being “ receiving a tax deduction”. While tax deductions are helpful to many people, most Christian financial counselors do not prioritize that as a motivation for giving. Tax laws change all the time and with the pressure on religious organizations from the Internal Revenue Service and other governmental agencies, it is quite possible we will see a time when philanthropic or religious giving will be restricted in ways that we have been unaccustomed to seeing. Will we allow that to impede the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ? Are we giving with an eye to getting something in return or only willing to give if it represents an advantage to us?
“For nearly a century, since the Revenue Act of 1917 first created the charitable income tax deduction, our nation’s tax system has strongly encouraged Americans to give back to their communities by providing tax deductions for contributions to charitable organizations. Currently the charitable deduction is available only to taxpayers who itemize on their tax returns, which constitutes roughly one-third of all Americans, and its value cannot exceed one-half of an individual’s adjusted gross income. – See more at: http://www.independentsector.org/charitable_deduction#sthash.sRuKACeV.dpuf “
While Titus 2 Partnership, Inc. is in the process of applying for tax exempt status with the IRS as a 501c3 non-profit organization, that will take time. How much time is a function of the Internal Revenue Service’s processing time and willingness to grant the tax exempt status to a religious organization. We cannot wait until then to begin receiving women in the program and providing services. If you do not itemize deductions or are able to give without regard to the necessity of obtaining a tax deductible benefit, please prayerfully consider doing so. Thank you.