how to give more

In these tight economic times, giving can be extremely hard to do.  You need every penny you bring in.  How can you afford to give anything, since it will require you to give up something?

While this dilemma is one that more and more people are facing lately, it should be noted that, if you’re not facing this dilemma, you’re not really giving.  Whoa!  What do I mean by that?  If you’re a giver, but you give out of your excess, giving doesn’t really affect you or impact you in any meaningful way.  If you have money to pay all your bills, have some fun, invest for retirement, and invest for your children’s education, and you still have enough left to give some away, how much does that gift mean to you?  It doesn’t represent a sacrifice of anything on your part.  You haven’t really given anything of yourself.

On the other hand, if money is tight at your house, but you choose to give some anyway, you are giving up something else you may have wanted.  Maybe you can’t eat out as much, or maybe it takes longer to save for your down payment, or maybe you have to wait until next month to get the car fixed.  If you give in the midst of these circumstances, your gift represents an actual sacrifice.  You have to give up something real and immediate in order to give.  If you keep this up for any length of time, you’ll also have to wrestle with personal, philosophical, and theological issues, and wrestling with these things will make you more human, more genuine.

Have you ever been presented with a real need, perhaps someone seriously hurting, but you don’t have any way to give?  You want to be ready to give at a moment’s notice, not be stranded with nothing available.  The trick is to decide beforehand how much you are going to give.  Every payday, set that amount aside in an envelope under the mattress.  Then, when you hear of someone with a need, you won’t have to struggle with how you’re going to come up with a gift.  Just go to the envelope and grab some cash.

You can also put $20 in a back corner of your wallet that you never go to, just so it’s there when you need it.

Use whatever tricks will make you more generous.  But don’t miss the opportunity to give.

This article originally appeared in the February 25, 2009, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.
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