“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Let me say at the outset that being a cheerful giver is not easy for me. I have given willingly throughout most of my years as a believer, but “willingly" is not the same as “cheerfully". This being said, I am more of a cheerful giver than I used to be. Why? Because attitude adjustments take time and because the Lord is patient with me. Allow me to share from Paul’s writings to the Corinthians some lessons He has been teaching me:
- Have a cause in mind. Paul was very clear to the church in Corinth that their brothers in Jerusalem were in dire need. I understand that giving is a spiritual discipline, but realizing the needs my gifts achieve helps me to be more cheerful.
- Give a little at a time. Paul told the Corinthians to set some funds aside every week so he would not need to take up a collection when he came. For me, giving cheerfully is much easier when I make plans (budget) for it. I am more relaxed and realize that regular giving will, over time, create a much greater gift.
- As you prosper. Paul told believers to give as they prospered. If you lose your job, you don’t need to beat yourself up when you can’t give as much. On the other hand, a great time to bump up your giving is when you get that pay boost. Just knowing that God doesn’t expect me to do what I am not able to do helps my frame of mind.
- You could influence others. Paul bragged on the Macedonians, who not only gave generously in the midst of affliction, but did so with great joy. Not that anyone other than the Lord should know how much I give, but I like knowing that my giving and my attitude could encourage others.
- You are forced to face your motives. Paul reports that the key factor in the generosity of these same Macedonians is that they first gave themselves to the Lord. This challenges me to look in the mirror and honestly ask if I have given myself wholly to the Lord. When my answer is “yes”, I am cheered by knowing that my giving is done with pure motives.
- God is a giver. He gave us his most prized possession: his only son. When we give we become more like God. I like the thought that he is making me over in his own image. Am I getting close to being like him? No…I have a long way to go, but I hate to think where I would be if I had never started giving.
A Closing Story
I recently returned from a short term mission trip to Mexico. Our team of 7 was sent and commissioned by our local church to serve some struggling Mexican churches. With very little fanfare, our church and a sister church gave and gave and gave. By the time we departed, our team had $5,000 and a donated van to give away. We felt a great responsibility to use these gifts in a way that honors our Lord. And during that week, God made some needs extremely clear to our team. One minister named Desiderio was close to giving up after 20 years of working in an impoverished community, but our gift (earmarked for expanding his church building) encouraged him so much that his passion for ministry has been rekindled. Another church had been saving diligently for a van, but was far from reaching their goal. When we presented them the keys to the van (at a church service) most of the church members were openly weeping.
I am sure that those who gave for this trip did so cheerfully. People gave simply to meet needs in a place where they would never go to and to bless people they will never meet. I am still humbled by being a courier of others’ generosity, but I somehow believe that the purity of the giving amplifies the gift’s use. For examle, I believe that Desiderio and his church will be positively impacted for years to come. I further believe that the van (a 1992 twelve passenger GMC) will be in the Lord’s service for a long, long time.
I know this: I have been changed forever by the generosity of these unnamed donors. Maybe I can be more like them. That would make me very cheerful.