Should You Give Even if You Are in Debt and Struggling?
I was on the Bob Dutko radio show recently. Bob is a Christian talk radio show host. Based in Detroit, Bob’s show has a wide reach on a variety of topics.
The purpose of the show was to discuss the David Green book Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again (Zondervan 2017), which I helped co-author. The themes of the book are family, legacy, and generosity. Bob zeroed in on the generosity theme, but one question in particular: should people give when they are in dire circumstances—debt, struggling, facing troubling times?
Of course, the lawyer in me would never tell clients that they should do something that doesn’t makes absolute sense. But what of it? Should we give even when it doesn’t make sense? LifeChurch.tv has baked radical generosity into their DNA with this tenet: “We will lead the way with irrational generosity because we truly believe it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (See Pastor Craig Groeschel’s story in The Generosity Bet.)
I am reminded of the Widow of Zarephath. Elijah was sent there during a time of drought and famine. In fact, Elijah arrives at a time of crisis. He asks her to bring him some bread and water.
The widow tells Elijah of her plight. Her plan was to collect some sticks, build a fire, and make a meal using the last of her flour and oil. From there, she expected to die of starvation. Elijah’s response is telling. He doesn’t rescind his request for bread. To the contrary, he says,
Don’t be afraid! Go and do what you said. Only make a little loaf of bread for me first. Then bring it to me. You can make something for yourself and your son after that. I Kings 17.13
Don’t be afraid! Give first! That is Elijah’s message. And we know the rest of the story: The jar of flour was not used up, and the oil did not run dry until the Lord provided rain for the land.
While I’d be hesitant to describe this as a universal principle, the reality is that God is one who looks for His children to be givers—even when it doesn’t make sense—for His sake and for His kingdom.