The After-Tax Blessing

October 30, 2012

Excerpt from 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

"For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means…"

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

Early in my working life, I met with a financial planner. It seemed absurd since we were deeply in debt. We had nothing to save, let alone invest. But a wise friend had said this was just the time for such advice.

He reviewed our budget. We had been making progress with our credit card debt but there was more to shovel out from under. We had also recently become tithers, giving ten percent of our income to the church. The two felt connected in my mind. We had made progress on the debt while growing in generosity. But I was embarrassed to tell that to a financial planner. I knew he was going to tell us to give less away, and to pay off the debt as soon as possible.

So when we got to the subject of charitable giving, I told him we were tithers. "Tithers, huh?" he said. "Is that ten percent of after-tax income or pre-tax income?"

"After tax, of course," I said. After all, we were tithers, not fanatics.

After a long awkward pause, I asked, "So what do you think of that?"

"It's fine," he said, "if all you want is an after-tax blessing!"

Then he laughed heartily and joyfully. Turns out, he was a member of a UCC church himself. His philosophy of financial planning had extreme generosity at its core. God had clearly sent a prophet our way, and he had issued us a challenge.

Prayer

Generous God, please take my worries about money and put them on your shoulders, so that I do not carry them alone. Grant me a generous spirit, and the means to give beyond my means. Amen.

About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is the author, with Martin Copenhaver, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

Click to order Hark! Advent Devotionals 2012 from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.

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