Give to the poor. This is another secret ignored by the financial planning community, except perhaps as an afterthought or as a tax reduction strategy. Too bad! The Bible heralds it loudly and consistently: “He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses,” Prov. 28:27; “Happy is he who is gracious to the poor,” Prov. 14:21; “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD and He will repay him for his good deed,” Prov. 19:17; “The generous man will be prosperous and he who waters will himself be watered,” Prov. 11:25. Jesus himself said, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap,” Luke 6:38. I am not saying we should “give to get” in a motivational sense. I am saying that if we give properly, God will ensure that we are not net losers.
My wife and I experienced this dramatically many years ago as we secretly gave $500 to a poor family in our church who desperately needed money for a mortgage payment. That was on a Saturday morning. In the afternoon, someone who had absolutely no contact with that family or knowledge of our gift gave us $1,000. God rewards every act of charity, especially when it’s done in secret. Furthermore, proper giving is a type of financial insurance. But not all giving is equally blessed by God. Be careful not to give to the rich. “He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty,” Prov. 22:16. Over my lifetime I have observed that the happiest folk, financially speaking, are also the most generous.
Why is this? I am not sure, but I believe it is related to us being made in the image of God. When our behaviour harmonizes with God’s character we are most satisfied and joyful. God is a giving person, not a taking person. He needs nothing. Giving is God’s nature. Giving is godly. That’s why Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The problem is that we are all infected with sin. You don’t need to teach a toddler to take. As one whit quipped, “The centre of sin is the middle letter.” Theologically it is called total depravity, not maximum depravity, but total depravity. In other words, ubiquitous imperfection. We could all be worse, but none of us is perfect. Thus generous giving does not come naturally like self-centered taking. To learn more about the importance of giving and the benefits of generosity check out two cartoon characters: Generous Genevieve and Blessed Bob.