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Ask Dave

Outrageous generosity or foolish overspending?

Josiah wonders when "outrageous generosity" crosses the line and becomes foolish overspending. Dave's gives him some guidelines to consider, and includes biblical principle in his response.

QUESTION: Josiah asks Dave at what point “outrageous generosity” becomes foolish overspending. Dave gives his thoughts and lays out some biblical criteria in the process.

ANSWER: Well, to start with, your first mandate is to take care of your own household. The Bible says if you don’t take care of your own household, you’re worse than an unbeliever. So you start with your house. Are you able to take care of the basic needs and basic lifestyle of your family? If your outrageous generosity has interrupted the food on your own children’s table, then that would be foolish. And it’s not “overspending,” it’s foolish “overgiving” if you went to that point.

In the house of the wise, the Bible says, are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. So you need to be saving money to be called wise biblically. If you spend everything you make, or for that matter if you gave away everything you make on an ongoing basis, it would be foolish. Now, there are individual times where different people may be called to do that — and I don’t doubt it — but I’m talking about as a pattern of living or a way of life over an extended period of time. If you just say you’re going to give away your whole income and let the government support you, well that’s not biblical. That’s not how you live your life; it’s just silliness.

So, if it’s interrupting reasonable living for you or your family — and you’re not able to save or invest — then your generosity, as a pattern, has gotten too deep. But very few people struggle with overgiving, Josiah. Almost no one struggles with that in our culture. I run into people occasionally who give the wrong amounts at the wrong time or to the wrong things, or sometimes they even get caught up in toxic reasons for giving. But I don’t find many people who just straight up suffer from overgiving. I would say less than one percent of the people I’ve worked with have financial issues from that. It just doesn’t happen.