I wish I had a straight answer for the question of giving vs investing, but any short answer does a disservice to the question itself. As believers we are called to give sacrificially and generously to those in need. And it is a part of our culture and even sensible to save money for things like retirement. If you are looking to build a retirement nest egg and give sacrificially it can be a struggle to find any balance between them.
Obviously this isn’t an easy question to answer but here are a few things to consider.
Take a look at your budget and your spending and ask “Is my giving impacting my lifestyle?”
CS Lewis put it this way:
I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts luxuries, amusments etc is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own we are probably giving away too little. If our chartities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we would like to do but can not because our charities exclude them (Mere Christianity)
This is a concept most people don’t realize. Retirement isn’t something the bible even addresses. Retirement is a twentieth century invention and it was created to force older workers out of the system so they would stop slowing down production. The only way to do it was to pay them not to work. Now it is just assumed that we will get to stop working one day even if we can’t afford it.
We may need to save for the loss of income as we reach retirement age, but shouldn’t assume that there will come a time where we are not working.
As Christians we should think about our giving in light of God as the great giver. God planned to show his goodness to us before the foundation of the world in giving his son to save us. Jesus models for us what type of sacrifice we are supposed to display.
Philippians says “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Phil 2:5-8
If Jesus was willing to set aside equality with God we can be willing to set aside equality with our neighbors’ standard of living.
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