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He Said, She Said

I enjoyed giving spontaneously.

Clem's Side

I've always been a soft touch. Even as a kid, I'd ask my parents if I could pledge some of my small allowance to Jerry Lewis's Labor Day telethon. And when I was a teenager attending school in the city, the street people always knew I'd give them a few quarters.

As a young adult, I felt God calling me to become a more consistent giver. I chose several worthy causes and disciplined myself to contribute to them on a regular basis. Then I met Julia, and she opened up a lot of areas in my life, including the possibility of doing more for the work of God with our combined income once we got married.

Julia is a pretty easygoing person, and after we were married I assumed that she would go along with us giving as much as possible to good organizations. But in our second year of marriage, I realized that wasn't the case. When we sat down with an accountant at tax time and tallied up our charitable contributions for the year, Julia saw a stack of receipts for tax-deductible gifts that she didn't know I had made.

I could tell she was ticked. The skin tightened around her forehead and her back straightened. But I felt justified. After all, we had continued to put food on the table and we were living in a nice home. My spur-of-the-moment giving hadn't prevented us from meeting our basic needs. Yet Julia felt betrayed, and I felt confused.

Julia's Side

While growing up, I had become a bit calloused about calls for money—it seemed there were so many people wanting money for so many different causes. But Clem helped me see that giving was a response to God's grace. I began to view money as something God loans to us so we can use it to do the good he desires. That was a completely new perspective for me.

Clem's commitment to Christ and his knowledge of the Bible were what initially attracted me to him. But beyond that was the idea that with our combined income we could do more to help others.

After we got married, we talked about what causes we wanted to support. Clem had sponsored one child through World Vision, and we decided to sponsor a total of four children. We also opted to give to a local mission where we had once volunteered. And beyond that, we supported several missionaries. Within our first year of marriage, we were giving at a rate far beyond what I was accustomed to.

Still, I was alarmed when we were preparing our taxes the following year and Clem pulled out receipts from various groups that had called on the phone wanting $10, $25 and even $50. While I knew these were good causes, I was miffed that Clem hadn't consulted me first. How could he casually give away part of our hard-earned income without mentioning it to me first?

What the Boyds Did

After Clem's giving habits were revealed, the Boyds decided it was time to discuss their differing views on charitable contributions.

"While I don't think there is a problem contributing to causes that solicit over the phone, after talking with Julia I realized the real problem was giving without her knowledge," Clem says. "To be honest, my approach wasn't in the best interest of my family or the organizations we supported. According to Scripture, we need to give consistently and regularly."

Clem admitted that sometimes he would make a donation just to get off the phone without feeling guilty. Once he recognized that deciding how to use their money without his wife's input was wrong, he apologized to Julia and asked God for forgiveness.

Early in their marriage, the Boyds researched the biblical commands to give, particularly Paul's insights in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.

"Our study opened Juila's mind about giving," says Clem, who confesses that he first wanted to push his wife toward more generous giving. "I now realize God and his Word changed Julia's attitude, not me."

Clem also realized he needed to thank God for Julia's strengths. "Julia is a great saver as well as a smart spender," he says. "She's a wise steward of what the Lord has given us."

The Boyds revisited the particular causes they would support. "We decided to keep on with the groups we had been contributing to," Julia says, "in addition to our church. But the tax-time revelation reminded me that giving is a dynamic process, just like everything else in the Christian life. If there's a cause or person we feel we should give to, I realize that I need to open up to that possibility."

They both realized that Julia needs time to digest major changes, including the possibility of increasing their giving.

"We're about to come into some inheritance money," says Clem, "and I mentioned we might donate some of it. I left it at that—no specific plans. The next day Julia brought the subject up for discussion."

Eight years into their marriage, the Boyds have continued to grow in their generosity. "We've worked to give in a disciplined way so that our giving will have the maximum affect," says Clem. "The Lord is changing both of us so that his kingdom might reap the benefit."

If you know a couple with a creative solution to a common marriage problem, let us know. Send the couple's name, phone number and a short description of their problem and solution to:

Marriage Partnership
465 Gundersen Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188

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Charity; Differences; Marriage; Money
Today's Christian Woman, Fall, 1998
Posted September 12, 2008

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