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"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."
2 Corinthians 9:11
“One always receiving, never giving, is like the stagnant pool, in which whatever flows remains and whatever remains corrupts.” John Angell James (1785-1859) on “Liberality” in
A Dictionary of Thoughts, edited by Tryon Edwards (Detroit: Dickerson, 1908) p. 299.
As this nation was growing in prosperity, leading Christians appear to have been urging people away from the trend of keeping surplus for themselves like rich fools (
Luke 12:13-21) and directing it toward generosity (evidenced by the quote above from John Angell James). By the 1900s people needed incentive to give. Hence the birth of the tax deduction. Interestingly, 2017 marked the 100-year anniversary of the tax deduction in America (dating back to the War Revenue Act of 1917). By the 1900s, leading citizens felt that without tax incentive to motivate giving, charities would close.
Sadly, by the 2000s, the rich fool narrative has become an entrenched and celebrated fixture in this culture. Following Christ looks increasingly nonsensical when compared to cultural norms. As of the date of this writing, it is still uncertain as to the tax reform that will be passed by lawmakers.
Regardless, what should be our reaction to the tax reform as it relates to charitable giving?
Let’s fix our gaze higher. We must not calibrate our giving based on tax deductions but based on what God supplies. Let’s live and give differently than society and obey our Lord, because otherwise, “whatever flows remains and whatever remains corrupts” (see also
For those of us who live in this land of majestic purple mountains, let us give generously at all times and occasions in the year 2018, not because we are loaded, but because God is. Not because of the deduction it will generate, but because He tells us to do it this way so that He will receive the thanks and glory.
With gratitude to Gary Hoag for sharing many of these ideas with us.