When is a Gift Really a Gift?

When is a Gift Really a Gift? It’s a rather curious question. If you ask the IRS, they would say when the post office postmarks the envelope. If you ask a ministry, they would say when a gift actually becomes available. If you ask a starving child in Africa they would say when I can put it in my mouth, eat it and for a moment reduce my hunger. For some older Christians, they might say when I sign my wills and trusts giving millions away to Kingdom causes when I die.

How would you answer that question? In this post, I give three points to think through in order to decide for yourself.

1. The joy of giving comes not when the tax man says you have made a gift, but when your heart tells you that you have made a gift.

A family who considered doing Christian estate planning told me that they transferred a certain amount of money into their foundation over twelve months ago. They said that they had not deployed any funds in the foundation yet. I asked why they had not yet granted any of the money to ministries. They looked at me with a bit of bewilderment and said, “Well, that is principal and you never give away principal.” I said, “Who said that was principal?” They were speechless. I then asked them, “do you have any stories of family members that were inspired and moved by giving money to a foundation?”

2. When your giving actually impacts a life is when you have really made that gift.

You will know when you have actually made a gift because someone’s life will be touched by that gift. Jesus said it this way, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you inited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you visited Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV)

The money that sits in your foundation or donor advised fund is nothing more than money sitting in your foundation, waiting to be given – waiting to change a life.

3. God’s return on your money is not only worth much more than you could ever make, it can not be valued in human terms.

I’ve heard some say that the reason they do this is because they are particularly talented at growing the assets and the amount that they would eventually give is going to be so much more at a later time. I struggle with this notion because it sounds a little too close to comparing your returns on an investment to what God can do with the money now. Can anyone get a better return than God? Is the life of one child not worth millions? Is saving one child from human trafficking not worth millions? Is saving a marriage that is about to implode not worth millions? I could go on and on.

God’s return on your money is not only worth much more than you could ever make, it can not be valued in human terms. So I end with asking you this question again…When is a Gift really a Gift?


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joe-sturnioloBy Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
about significant impact for His Kingdom.

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