Giving to others. It seems such a simple thing, and it is
something that we are told numerous times in Scripture to do: "Give
to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do
not demand it back." (Luke 6:30 NIV; see also Deut.
15:10, 16:17; Prov.
3:27, 11:24-25, 21:26;
etc.). But we aren't just asked to "give"; we are asked to give
"cheerfully": "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." (2 Cor. 9:7 NIV)
I know that many of you reading this already give to the Lord; but can our giving truly always be described as "cheerful"? Or is "reluctant" or "under compulsion" a better descriptor? Why is it sometimes so hard to cheerfully give what God asks us to give?
I believe there are two primary reasons that cheerful giving is difficult for us, and these will be the subject of the next two devotionals as we attempt to unravel the secrets to cheerful giving.
The first reason that it is sometimes hard to give "cheerfully" is that so often, "just getting by" uses all available resources. For example, if trying to meet your monthly expenses already stretches your pocket book beyond its limits, the thought of giving money seems impossible. If your own problems are looming so large that they consume all of your prayer time, then even the idea of interceding for others brings on anxiety. During times of high stress, we tend to put our time and energy into self-preservation and survival, and as a result, when we are asked to take on a new responsibility, we tend to be incensed: What? I don't have enough for myself, and God wants me to do...more?
Yet we know that our loving Father--who would never ask us to do the impossible--has told us to give, and to give cheerfully...
Let's take a look at one of the Bible's most powerful passages about giving: "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Cor. 9:6-8 NIV).
Notice in particular, the final line: "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all thingsat all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." In other words, when we give of our time, our talents and our resources, even in times of high stress when our resources are already limited, God will provide so that we have everything we need in order to do even more giving!
How can this be?
Paul, the writer of the 2nd letter to the Corinthians, goes on to further explain: "As it is written:
'They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.' Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." (2 Cor. 9:9-10 NIV).
Herein lies the first secret to cheerful giving: We don't need to worry about our resources! Remember Phil. 4:19? "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (NIV). When we give according to how God asks us to give, despite our own lack of resources, we can be assured that we will have: "all that you need..." and that, "you will abound in every good work."
I remember the testimony of one of the prayer warriors in this ministry. Although he said nothing initially, he had significant need. He felt the call of God on his life, however, and he committed himself to praying--not for his own needs--but for the needs of others. As he continued to intercede on behalf of other people, this particular prayer warrior's blessings began to flow. Soon he had a wonderful job, a lovely wife and family, and his health issues are now things of the past.
It makes you think, doesn't it?
Giving because we know God will repay us does not, however, always result in "cheerful" giving. Join us on Saturday for "The Secret to Cheerful Giving, Part 2."
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire "Giving's Secrets" mini-series, please click here.)