My Answer: Cheerful Year-End Giving

Q: I was surprised the other day when our church treasurer urged people to be as generous as possible before the end of the year, and the only reason he gave was so we'd get a big deduction on our income tax. Shouldn't we have purer motives than this for our giving? — L.W.

A: Yes, our greatest desire in our giving should be to serve God, not to gain some advantage for ourselves. We should be like the Christians in Macedonia whom Paul commended, because "they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability" (2 Corinthians 8:3) — all without the benefit of any tax deduction!

I'm grateful our government realizes that churches and other organizations make an important contribution to our society, and for that reason it grants them exemption from taxes. If they weren't helping the poor and doing educational work and serving others in a host of other ways, the government would have to take up the slack — and wouldn't be able to do it as efficiently or compassionately. Many countries don't have the same outlook.

At the same time, everything we have — including our money — has been given to us by God, and we are only stewards or trustees of it. If we are Christians, our goal should be to serve Christ in every way we can — including with our money.

Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ, and then ask Him to help you use your money the way He wants you to. Through your giving, you can touch the lives of people you will never meet this side of eternity. The Bible says we should give joyfully, "for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).

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Affectionately known as the "World's Preacher" for more than 60 years, the Rev. Billy Graham is one of the most influential and respected spiritual leaders of the 20th century. He has been a friend and spiritual advisor to ten American presidents and has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history — nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories — through various meetings. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts. Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: www.billygraham.org.

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