"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The Holy Spirit gave this admonition to the church at Corinth as a contribution was being taken up for needy Christians in Judea. But this admonition for each Christian to be a cheerful giver is not limited to that time, those people, nor that situation. It remains just as true today that "God loveth a cheerful giver."
WHAT? A GIVER!
In response to the question, "Who is my neighbor?", Jesus responded with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). This spoke of an unsuspecting traveler who was accosted by highway robbers and left for dead. Two men each passed by and did nothing to help the suffering man. The robbers and the two men that passed by were takersthey looked out only for themselves at the expense of others. But fortunately for the wounded man, a giver also came that way. That giver happened to be of a group that was at odds with that of the wounded man, but this did not stop the giver from giving. He dressed his wounds, brought him to an inn, and upon departure told the innkeeper that he would meet whatever additional expense the wounded man incurred.
There is no lack of takers in the world today. People feel free to take whatever they believe they need or deserve, although they may neither need nor deserve what they take. Of course, no society can function properly with a disproportionate number of takers to givers. And this returns to haunt the takers as well as, and worse than, the givers. As one country and western singer crooned, "The road you leave behind you is another road you're gonna have to go back down." This is a truth affirmed by the word of God: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). You see, we were not placed on earth to be takers, but givers. This does not mean that we do not receive, for we doand abundantly. But should we respond to our abundance by taking more, or by giving? "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7). Every good thing we have is from God (cf. James 1:17)our lives, our health, our families, our ability to earn our livelihoodsand this leaves us debtors to God. Admittedly, our debt to God is not repayable, particularly if we have received the forgiveness of our sins that can be found only in Christ (Colossians 1:14). However, the abundance that we have received should fill us with a deep sense of gratitude and obligation toward God.
All we can give Him in return is . . . everything. Considering all things come from God, the apostle Paul wrote, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). The only reasonable response to God is to give yourself. It is impossible that we could ever repay God to such a degree that He would owe usHe is debtor to no man: "Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11:35-36).
HOW? A CHEERFUL GIVER!
We are definitely told how we are to givewillingly and cheerfully. If it is only reasonable that we give ourselves entirely to God, why would it dampen one's mood to give only a portion of himself to God? What is the secret to cheerful giving? Perhaps the Macedonian Christians could tell us something in this regard. When the aforementioned contribution for the Christians in Judea was collected, the churches in Macedonia enthusiastically gave: "[I]n a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality" (2 Corinthians 8:2). These were poor Christians themselves, yet they eagerly jumped at the chance to help their brethren in greater need. Paul said that they gave "beyond their power . . . praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift" (verses 3- 4). One can clearly see that the Macedonians were marked by gratitude. They were thankful for what they had received, and thankful for the opportunity to help their brethren in need. But one who lacks gratitude can never be a cheerful giver. Also, before the Macedonians gave to the collection, they "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (verse 5). Being committed wholly to Him, they trusted their welfare to His providence; a most reasonable trust (compare with Matthew 6:25-34; 7:7-12; Hebrews 13:5-6). If one combines his gratitude with trust in God, the ingredients are in place to make a cheerful giver.
One who gives himself wholly to God will find his disposition cheered in ways unimaginable to those outside of Christ. Even writing from prison, Paul exulted, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice"; fully enjoying "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:4, 7; cf. John 10:10). Some apparently believe that God is a tyrant, seeking whimsically to impose His will in such a way as to rob mankind of any joy in life. Nothing could be further from the truth. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3; compare with Deuteronomy 10:12-13). May each of us realize the joy of giving, and "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
WHY? GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER!
Nobody likes a begrudging giver. If a young man gives his sweetheart a necklace, all the while bemoaning the hassle of buying her a gift, he just might find the necklace back in his hands and his sweetheart out the door. In this respect, God is no different. He only asks what is appropriate and necessary (whether or not we realize why it is appropriate and necessary)so why should He be pleased with a begrudging giver? But we are told that God loves the cheerful giver! What greater motivation can one have to be a cheerful giver? That there is something we can do to prompt the love of God is amazing, considering we all have done so much to spurn the unconditional love that God has for us (Isaiah 53:6; 59:1-2; Romans 3:23; 5:8; Ephesians 2:1-5). When one has a heart inclined to give cheerfully, that person shows he has a heart like that of God Himself. There is no greater love that one could receive than the love of God (John 3:16; Romans 5:7-8; 1 John 3:16). When one acts according to the will of God, including by being a cheerful giver, that person receives back a love accompanied by greater blessings than he could ever give. As Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (John 14:21).
Are you a taker or a giver? Give yourself entirely and cheerfully to the will of God, and "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
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