Last Thursday, in "The Secret to Cheerful Giving, Part 1", we
saw that not having enough to give is one huge barrier to cheerful
giving. The first secret to cheerful giving, however, is that when we
give according to how God asks us to give, we can be assured that God
will provide for all our needs so that we, "...will
abound in every good work." (2 Cor. 9:8 NIV).
Unfortunately, giving because we know God will repay us does not always result in "cheerful" giving. How can we ensure that our giving is not done "reluctantly or under compulsion"?
I believe a second barrier to cheerful giving is related to what motivates us to give. Because God provids for all our needs when we give to others, it is easy for our giving to become motivated by our desire to receive that blessing of God. According to the Bible, however, this is not the proper motivation for giving! Consider the following:
1. "If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:3 NIV). In other words, if we give for any reason other than love, we might as well not give at all.
2. "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8 NIV). If our motivation for giving is anything other than love, then according to 1 John 4:8, we don't even know God.
3. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10 NIV). God is our ultimate example, and He showed His love for us by...giving!
4. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Cor. 1:3-4 NIV). Though the context of this text is specifically "comfort", the idea is clear: God provides for our needs so that "we will be able to give them" the same gift "God has given us"!
Our giving, therefore, must be motivated by pure, unselfish love. When it is, that love will drive us to give cheerfully to others, despite how little we have to give.
Unfortunately, this type of love does not come naturally for us. How do we go about receiving this selfless kind of love that is required for becoming a "cheerful giver"?
The answer comes straight from the Word of God. Please consider the following four texts:
1. "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (1 Cor. 3:18 NIV).
2. "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." (4:7-9 NIV).
3. "...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ..." (Eph. 3:17-18 NIV).
4. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV)
We can only find selfless love by making the effort to contemplate the glory of the Lord, by spending time with the Creator of the Universe, the One who loves us more than we will ever comprehend. As we do, God changes our stony hearts into hearts of flesh; and as our hearts begins to reflect His, selfless love will pour through us onto other people.
The result? Selfless, cheerful giving!
God recently provided me with a new ministry opportunity. At first I was frustrated that He would ask me to do even more when my time and energy were already so limited; but as God placed the secrets of cheerful giving on my heart, I decided to give it a try. The results were unbelievable. As I began spending more time in His presence, I found myself putting my trust in His unfailing love and faithfulness, and I soon began to see those around me with His heart of love. The initial change was subtle, but before long I was actually enjoying my time with those God was placing in my care. It was motivating to make them smile, to make a difference in their lives. In addition to this, there was somehow always enough time to get everything done, and I found I had energy to spare. All because God revealed to me the secrets of cheerful giving.
Giving cheerfully to others. It's a simple, fulfilling concept; but to experience it to its fullness, we must spend time with God and allow Him to work His perfect love into our hearts. As we do, we will begin to trust God to supply all our needs, and cheerful giving will become a natural result of our changed hearts and motivations.
"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).
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.)