Sunday, February 18, 2007

Giving in Good Measure

"Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. . . Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured to you." Luke 6: 30, 38

It's tax time again, which means that my husband and I are having our annual argument regarding our level of charitable giving. By mutual agreement, I handle the finances in our house, which means that I get to write the checks. He trusts that the bills will get paid, that I won't let us fall into financial ruin, and that I will do my best to save for our future and invest wisely. He also knows that I give to charity. This has caused him pain since the day we got married, but it is one of those factors of my character that he chooses to overlook for a good 360 days of the year.

Tax time, however, is a different story. While I pay the bills, he takes care of preparing our tax return. This means once a year I have to turn over an accounting of that year's generosity - an itemized list of what I gave to who with a grand total that promptly gives my husband a headache. He will generally walk around the house for several days bringing up that figure at random moments, at which point I smile very sweetly at him in an attempt to remind him why exactly it is that he loves me despite this difference in opinion and financial management. After a little while, it blows over, until next year.

It was fitting then that this passage from Luke should be this week's gospel. It gave me ammunition in my annual case that charity is a good thing. Jesus told us to give to the poor and to love our neighbor. That is the first reason that I give a percentage of our income to charitable organizations. It is the right thing to do.

The second reason I give is contained in the second half of the scripture passage: "For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured to you." God has been extremely good to us. While there have certainly been times in our marriage when money has been very scarce, we have always had what we needed when we needed it. At the times when our financial situation has grown most desperate, I have increased our charitable giving. It always seems to work out that God soon provides the money we need.

Giving to God first means placing your financial health in God's hands, which is not always easy to do. It can be hard to trust, especially when faced with a large stack of bills and limited funds with which to pay them. It is very tempting to consider passing on writing that check for charity in order to pay for something else. But giving to God first somehow makes what is left go farther. It helps you prioritize the expenses in your life and really consider how you want to spend the money you do have.

So, yes, give to God because it is right and good, but also trust that God will provide for you as well. Even my husband can't argue with that logic!

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