What is the Third Goal for 2023?
The first goal for 2023 was to focus on the glory and wisdom of God. Every other goal will flow from that perspective. The second goal was a dividend income goal. The goal is 9% growth for 2023. That goal might seem self-focused. It could look like an effort to build bigger barns to store temporary treasure. The reality is, I hope, to add more fuel to the third goal. That goal is giving.
Charitable Giving Goal
When most people set “New Year’s Resolutions,” I would venture to guess that increasing their charitable giving is not on the list. As I look at my goal list, it seems rather selfish to list the things I want. We have everything we need. Wants are secondary and certainly very optional. The following are not my goals, but they are fairly common New Year’s Resolutions for most people.
I went looking on the internet to see if I was just cynical or jaded, or overly pessimistic about the resolutions people set. I had a hard time finding anything that talked about “you.” It was more about “me.” I did not spend hours in research, so I may have used the wrong search criteria in DuckDuckGo. However, here are some interesting graphs from Statistica:
Setting Small Goals
Matt Bradner wrote an interesting piece on DesiringGod.org. On December 30, 2022, he said we might consider goal setting with “Start the Year Small” and provided some “Wisdom for Setting New Goals.” He reminds us that a new year means a new trip around the sun. Just think about how many million miles you have traveled on earth in the last 365 days. That trip was designed and is sustained by a very charitable God. He gives good gifts. He is generous in his giving. LINK
Bradner then says something worth remembering. “Our flesh keeps us on the couch, waiting for opportunities that appear to promise instant and immense impact. Those who constantly dream of the big victory often overlook the small decisions required to get there. This type of home-run mentality seems to be exactly where Satan wants us to be. It’s no secret that he tempted Jesus with comfort and glory (fake as it may have been) that was instant and immense (Matthew 4:1–11). I’m convinced Satan is still running the same playbook, and we may be easy targets.” LINK
He also says he is setting three goals: “One devotion, one kindness, and one day at a time. I’m starting with those three small decisions this year. What will yours be?” One kindness that Cindie and I want to have as a part of the lifeblood of every day is kind generosity.
Learning from Past Charitable Giving
Everyone’s charitable giving goal for 2023 can and should be different. Start small if you have not been in the habit of giving. But don’t think small. Remember this truth: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Has God blessed you with abundance? If so, what does that mean? It means God is trusting you to be a good and faithful steward. Don’t miss that reality. Don’t waste that opportunity.
I started thinking more about this last year. I decided to look at our charitable giving trend using the Federal Income Tax returns Schedule A for 2002-2021. It started to make me feel very proud (a bad sign), because we have given away hundreds of thousands of dollars. But that quickly dissipated when I looked at our total giving for 2013-2018. It was not an encouraging view. Thankfully, 2019-2021 was much better. That got me to thinking about how we would finish out 2022. I became more energetic so that we could have our best giving year ever (excluding inflation, which makes the 2022 dollars seem small against the 2021 dollars.) So what does that mean?
Charitable Giving Goal 2023
Corinth was a rich community. When Paul wrote his second letter to them, he talked about an attitude of giving of the extremely poor community in Macedonia. Paul said, “they gave themselves first to the Lord.” This set the stage for their giving.
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-6
By now you could rightly say, “Set an example for us, Wayne and Cindie.” I don’t think it wise to share a dollar amount with you. The size of the gift does not matter. The heart attitude of generosity does. So, we will start small, as Bradner suggests. The goal will be to increase 2023’s giving by at least 10%. That goal may be overly conservative. Perhaps we should start by giving away our entire income tax refund if we have one. We can certainly give away, Lord willing, the increase in our dividends during 2023.
What is your goal? What will you resolve? How will that be done? Can you teach your children or grandchildren some important truths about generosity by example?
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.