(Strange post topic? Sort of - but it is in response to comments I have had lately about large families being 'excused' from tithing and missions support because they don't have much disposable income....I don't agree - we may not be able to give large chunks but we are able to share what we have.)
In this season of our life predictable paychecks arrive in our account on alternate Fridays. Much of the tension that hourly jobs produced with unpaid sick days and fluctuating hours is gone, and the methods that worked then for designated or charitable giving doesn't apply now. It isn't a matter of paying all the bills and then seeing what is left over to invest in charitable ways, now we can plan ahead of time.
Currently, I am largely in charge of the bills and daily money management in our home so I have a pretty good handle on what is due when, how much is owed and where the balancing points are in our budget. (Got to use my MBA on something!) We run as debt free as the Lord allows with low to no consumer debt and though we currently have a loan on the big van we are quick to pay it off. Knowing what it takes to keep the family basically clothed, fed and housed it's my job to take the excess and invest it in ways that are God-honoring and help us to achieve our family purpose or mission. Some goes into savings (to pay off that next homestudy) some goes to homeschool costs, some to our home church as our tithe, monthly amounts go to medical missions in Asia, educational missions in Africa, and Muslim outreach in the US. We are also committed to an orphanage in South America, a Family ministry here in the US, and a Crisis Pregnancy Center here in MN. And always we are working to help meet our neighbors needs as well as the requests for support as short term crisis or relief teams that go out from our church in response to situations around the world.
But how do we choose? Who ever needs it most? If that were the standard I am sure that we would never be able to discern where our money was to be invested and probably be inconsistent with our giving. Rather than trying to figure out who has the greatest need, we look to determine if this is a ministry, crisis or situation that we particularly want to be involved with. It's always a matter of prayer and something we take seriously - our family could easily spend every penny Robert makes plus much more, but that isn't the life we want to live.
It's such a blessing to me when I run the taxes in January (that MBA again....OH I love tax season!) and each year God has provided for our family in such a way, that the amount of giving to needs outside our own family has exceeded the year before. I love those reverse numbers, they help me to stay focused on the reality that we have been given much (as a family in America) and therefore there is a huge opportunity for us to be involved through our money in so many places where good is being done and truth is being spoken.
It's so much better to feed a child in Guatemala or Africa for two months than to buy one pair of new Gap jeans for myself. I know I can eventually find those jeans at the Goodwill, but where will that child's meal come from if I am not involved? NOT that I am doing it out of guilt (as those who know me can attest) guilt is not how I function. It's done in joy - because we have the freedom to. Because we have the choice to love these people we will most likely never meet but who we can bless and whose lives we can impact in a positive way.