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Witness to the Power of GivingFebruary 12, 2024
In II Corinthians 9:7 we read, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” What does it mean to be a cheerful giver? Most people think it means that when you hear about someone doing something that you think is worthwhile, meaningful, or otherwise inspired by God, and that person or ministry needs money, then you give them some because it makes you feel good. Us feeling good is the key to us being a cheerful giver. Right?
Let’s say a missionary comes to church on a Sunday. Someone, call him Jim, comes rarely and gives little in benevolence, but he is there that Sunday, and is impressed with the missionary’s work. The missionary asks for $40,000 to buy a new Land Rover that will allow his mission to take needed medical supplies deep into the jungle. He challenges the congregation to raise the money for the Land Rover.
Jim calls a meeting between the minister and the missionary, and announces that there is no need to raise money, and then writes a check for $40,000. Is Jim a cheerful giver? What if Jim made a million dollars last year, and the $40,000 was the only money he gave away the entire year. By Biblical standards, God is not impressed one single bit. First, Jim has called lots of attention to himself. It honors God much more when we do things to advance God’s kingdom quietly, so that God is glorified.
Second, since God has blessed him with a million dollars in one year then, by the Old Testament standard of the tithe, the man needs to get busy. The tithe is 10%, which for a million dollars is $100,000. Jim has made a good start, but he still has $60,000 to go to be obedient. Over $100,000 is what we call an offering, and is much more in keeping with what Jesus challenged His listeners to strive for, that is, a sacrificial gift. When He saw the widow give all she had for her temple offering, He praised her saying, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had (Luke 21:3-4)”.
Does God need some rich guy to throw a little pocket change at a missionary problem to solve that problem? God has a much bigger problem dealing with Jim’s greed and definition of “cheerful giver”, than making sure that the missionary gets a Land Rover.
I offer these three thoughts about being a cheerful giver. First, believe that everything we have has been given to us by God. Everything. Don’t just know this is true, live like you believe this is true. If God has given us everything, and God requires us to give away a minimum of 10%, a tithe, then we better start giving away 10% if we want to begin becoming a cheerful giver. God doesn’t require us to give back 10% because He needs the money. God requires us to give back 10% on the chance that we will not be so idolatrous about money. Our salvation does not depend on it, but our happiness does! Idolatry of money can suck the spiritual life out of us as greed and fear about money can grow to consume us.
Second, Trust God to give you everything you need. If you give 10% away, God will provide for all your needs. You may not get all your wants, but you will get all your needs. Through my years of ministry, I have met people who quit the church. I’ve never met someone who quit tithing. Once you start, you learn the truth of Malachi 3:10, that God opens the floodgates of heaven to provide for us.
Third, fear life without God far more than life without control of your money. You can’t control it and it isn’t yours. When you were born you had nothing, and when you die you won’t take it with you. When your focus is not on security, stuff, and stock portfolios, then you can be cheerful as God uses the money you give away to others.
Look at the three thoughts about being a cheerful giver. Do you give that way? What needs to change to become a cheerful giver? Do you struggle with idolatry of money? Make a plan to be obedient with the money God has given you and experience the freedom that comes with being obedient to God.