Laying Scrooge to Rest
Analyses of giving, such as Christianity Today's "Scrooge Lives!" [December], rarely seem to take into account giving that is not recognized by the IRS. I suspect that this far exceeds deductible giving. Many of my friends are helping adult children whose pathetic salaries with no benefits are too small to support them. Just recently, a friend lent a truck to an unemployed man for months. People are taking in friends and relatives when jobs are lost. Immigrants are sending money home. There is a massive transfer of wealth that is simply unaccounted for by the IRS. I am not saying we can't be more generous, but we may not be as stingy as it appears.
Rob Moll's excellent cover story touched on all the important aspects of giving. One factor not clearly mentioned is the effect a personal connection can have. Knowing a missionary, the child of a friend, or someone in a personally experienced ministry is a strong impetus for giving.
This is true even in the church: Appeals for the "church budget" leave one cold compared with the needs of someone known. But, like Abraham, we are God's friends too. Gratefulness for his friendship and all that it entails is what should ultimately determine giving.
Red Oak, Iowa
The studies cited in "Scrooge Lives!" base their numbers on after-tax earnings, but to truly give of our first fruits, we ought to be giving from our before-tax earnings. Uncle Sam usually takes his share before we get our paychecks, so it is easy to think that the money in our hands is the sum of what we have earned. But God wants our first and our best; therefore, our tithe should be based on our gross earnings, not our net.
Of course, the statistics on American ...1