What’s your MPG?

by Tim on September 23, 2011

Sorry folks, we’re not talking about cars and gas mileage.  We’re coining a new phrase here – MPG = Marginal Propensity to Give.

A little background

I wrote a brief series about economics that explained two concepts: marginal propensity to consume and marginal propensity to save.  In a nutshell, these concepts ask what you would do with a dollar.  You can either consume it or save it.

For example, if you were given $100 out of the blue, and you put $80 in the bank and spent $20, your marginal propensity to save would be .8 (80%) and marginal propensity to consume would be .2 (20%).  A fiscally savvy person like yourself can apply this concept and make it a goal to make the MPS (saving) as high as possible.

Where does MPG come in?

So what about giving?  Great question!  For a lot of people, their MPG is set at 10% and that’s a fantastic goal to have! But I’ll challenge you with this: if you can increase your MPG over time, you might be surprised to see how the overall pie expands.

Here’s what I mean.  When we spend a dollar, it’s gone.  Our overall ‘financial pie’ shrinks with every dollar spent.  But when we give a dollar, it multiplies.  We don’t always see the return right away, but when our resources are used to further God’s Kingdom, we know that it won’t be unproductive.  (1 Cor. 15:58)

The math doesn’t make sense, but that’s the exciting part about giving.  I think this passage in 2 Corinthians 9 helps us to see that increasing our MPG is an excellent goal to have.

Verses 6- 8

Remember this- a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.  You must each decide in your heart how much to give.  And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.  “For god loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

This is a promise that we find in scripture.  We know that as we give to further the message of the Gospel, our needs will be met above and beyond what we could ever expect.  And the best part is that God promises to enrich us in every way, so that we can continue to be generous. (verse 11).

Paul finishes his teaching with two encouraging points.  Through faithful giving, we can meet the needs of others and people will joyfully express thanks to God.  Is there anything more exciting than that!  Giving isn’t about us.  The purpose of giving is to meet the needs of others in order to share the love of Christ with them.  It’s awesome to think that we can have such a connected role in helping people to connect with God, and being generous with our giving is a part of that equation.

How do you overcome challenges to giving?  Does it help to establish giving goals, like 10% or more?

Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.


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