Scripture and life experiences teach that there are important differences between capital and income.
Income is earned on a regular basis and is spent meeting daily needs. Unspent income typically becomes part of our capital and is invested in savings accounts, houses, retirement accounts, businesses and more. We work hard to accumulate sufficient capital over our working years to enable us to live off the income the capital produces when we cease working to earn a regular salary.
Another word for capital might be “endowment.” An endowment is simply a collection of assets that are invested to produce income that can be used for personal or charitable purposes. We most commonly think of endowment as financial assets and investments, but the Old Testament contains significant examples of God using capital to advance His Kingdom. In reading Genesis 41 we learn of a time early in Israel’s history when God used Joseph to advise the king of Egypt to store grain in anticipation of a looming seven years of famine. God inspired Joseph, and this grain storage became an endowment that kept the people from starvation. From this saved population descended the Savior of the world.
As we evaluate what God has entrusted to us in the way of capital assets within our estates, we must acknowledge the three possible destinations for our assets.
We can transfer assets to loved ones, to Christian ministries that have significantly impacted our lives or we can endow the U.S. government through taxes paid to the Internal Revenue Service.
Fortunately, many faithful Baptists are looking at the ministries of their churches and prayerfully considering what God is inspiring them to do. Individuals can help sustain Christian ministries during a time when their local church may experience a “famine” of financial support for regular ministry efforts.
Richard Carnes is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.