As trustworthy stewards of God’s assets [Psalm 24:1] we must conscientiously and carefully manage the time, talents, and treasures that have been entrusted to us. This requires a careful consideration of giving opportunities and the selection of those opportunities that are the most compelling. Within this set of opportunities, those that contribute to the accomplishment of the Great Commission are easily the most compelling and we should approach these endeavors generously, cheerfully, and wisely.
A wise giving strategy is outlined for us in the wisdom of the book of Proverbs where we are admonished to:
“Honor the Lord from your wealth (riches, substance) and from the first of all your produce (income, increase, revenue).” [Proverbs 3:9]
From this verse we can clearly see that we should establish and maintain a practice of giving out of both “assets” and “income”. This practice is not well understood or practiced within the Church where we have become accustomed to giving only out of “income” (typically based upon the model of the tithe of income).
A simple model for giving wisely out of both income and assets is termed “Ten Plus One”:
- Give 10% of income to fund the operation of your church;
- Give 1% of invested assets each year to fund the development and/or growth of a Great Commission ministry.
The Ten Plus One model is not intended to be either legalistic or mechanistic; if this formula is not appropriate for you, then select percentages of both income and assets that are most appropriate for you at your stage of life and your giving journey. Then consider a modification of the outline provided by Andy Stanley in his book “Fields of Gold”:
- Priority – make giving a first priority in your stewardship life
- Percentage – commit to giving fixed percentages of both income and assets
- Income – the tithe is the Biblical “norm”; select the value that God is placing on your heart;
- Assets – pick a percentage and observe the power of these resources for advancing Kingdom work.
- Progressive – having decided on these percentages, commit to increasing both of the values over time.
- Prompted – be sure to seize opportunities for giving that the Holy Spirit brings your way in addition to giving plans determined in line with this model.
- Quickly – Once you have determined your giving strategy and its associated percentages, be quick in its implementation and sure about its maintenance.
Examples of appreciated assets that can be most useful for giving are public stock, business interests, land, life insurance policies, and tangible items (art, jewelry, etc.). The great advantage of gifting appreciated property before the sale is that current tax law allows the deduction of the appraised market value of the asset on the date of the gift; there is no capital gains tax on the appreciated value of the asset if it is gifted to a tax-exempt, charitable organization; and any tax on future income of an income producing asset (e.g. shares in a business) is eliminated. By contrast, any depreciated asset like a car, boat, etc. should be sold and then the proceeds of the sale gifted to the charity. Many examples of generous, wise giving are available today. In one case a family in Memphis, Tennessee gave away 99% of the stock in their family owned company and only retained the 1% controlling share. God blessed this gift and today the tax-exempt income from the 99% of the stock generates approximately $1 million per month for Great Commission endeavors. On the other end of the scale, a group of young families with children in Albuquerque, NM (very little invested assets) collectively decided to have garage sales to raise funds for a specific Great Commission ministry that they had jointly identified; at the end of one year the revenue from the garage sales totaled nearly $30,000. While one family may not have had significant financial assets, the combined total revenue was of major value to the ministry that had been selected for funding.
Just as Proverbs 3:9 gives us a model for giving out of both income and assets, Proverbs 3:10 provides us with a promise associated with these gifts:
“So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
In a New Testament context and from an eternal perspective, this promise is not necessarily associated with material benefit or gain. The promise can more broadly be interpreted as follows:
- Your barns will be filled with plenty of peace, and
- Your vats will overflow with the new wine of joy!
May God bless you with His peace and joy as you honor Him in your giving!