While Congress debates how to handle our growing national deficit, one option being discussed is eliminating charitable giving as a tax deduction.
The concern is what effect this will have on future giving to ministries and charities. This should stimulate discussion, study and contemplation among believers as to why people should give.
Have you considered that giving is good for your health? Research shows that generosity benefits the well-being of those who give.
A study by the University of British Columbia gave evidence that people who give are happier than those who don't.
Another study by the University of Oregon showed that for many participants, "giving actually activates the same pleasure centers of the brain as receiving."
A 2008 study by an organization in Great Britain showed that people who leave money to charity in their wills live three years longer than those who don't (tinyurl.com/livethreeyrslonger).
Giving is at the heart of the Christmas season. God gave himself, in Jesus, that we might know him and have the abundant life he brings. As followers of Jesus Christ, a balanced, spiritually healthy life requires the disciplined giving of one's talents, time and treasures.
But what motivates our giving?
God owns everything. We are his stewards. "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1, NIV). Everything belongs to God — it is his because he created it. He has entrusted — not given — his world to us.
Our life, the abilities we have and the resources at our disposal belong to God. An attitude of "healthy giving" begins with this foundational truth.
Giving pleases God. The Apostle Paul encouraged Christians in Corinth: "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corin_thians 9:7, NIV). It pleases God when we give in a spirit to serve others and not for our own glory.
Giving is a blessing — to others and to ourselves. "Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor" (Proverbs 22:9, The Message).
There is two-edged truth to this. Being the Lord's stewards, we pass a blessing to others. It comes from God but passes through our hands. As a faithful steward, we receive a blessing when we give to others.
The government may take away tax deductions for charitable gifts, but it can't deduct the gift you receive from God when you give his gifts away. Giving is good for the body, mind and soul.
Nick Davis is the eastern regional vice president for the Missouri Baptist Foundation.