What word best describes your giving?
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 there is one word that describes the kind of giving that God gets fired up about. It says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” This means God loves it when his people give willingly and gladly.
Now in the days and weeks and months ahead I know you and I will be tempted to not be cheerful in our giving. Maybe you'll face an unexpected financial burden, and money gets tight, and the temptation will be to not be cheerful but to be reluctant and grumpy in your giving. Or maybe you’re already there today, not willing and glad to give but reluctant and grumpy.
In order to give the way that God loves, we need to answer this question, "How do I give cheerfully?"
In the 1st c. Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem were in need due to a famine. So Paul wrote to the Corinthians and asked them to give to meet this need. They agreed to help but still had not followed through on their gift. So Paul writes again in 2 Corinthains to encourage them to follow through on their commitment to give, but he wants to make sure when they give that they do it cheerfully.
How do I give cheerfully? 3 characteristics of a cheerful giver:
1.Cheerful givers see God as the giver.
Last spring I had some bar spots in my yard and I like to have a thick green lawn. Now imagine if I took grass seed out and put one seed of grass in each bare spot. What kind of results will I get maybe 1 blade of grass will grow up. But what if I go out and throw handfuls of grass seed on these bare spots? Good chance I will have no more bare spots.
That’s what v.6 says, The point is this whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. This is the farming principle. We reap what we sow. If we sow little reap little if we sow a lot reap a lot.
Yes this speaks of farming but the principle is not about seeds and farming- See in order to be a good farmer means you must depend on God. The farmer who holds onto his seed and sparingly plants it hold onto it would be like saying no thanks God I’m not going to trust you with this seed. I am going to horde it. I’m going to control how much I have and how I use it. Well if you if you are a farmer or even gardener say “Good luck with that.”
But the Farmer who sows generously knows he does not make the seed grow, he does not control the harvest – God does. Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” So when a Farmer plants seeds he is trusting God both for the seed and the harvest!
Taking the farming example Paul applys it to money. When it comes to money do you see God as the giver or taker?
View #1 Sees God as the Taker Look at the economy or look at life circumstances and things are tight or bills are piling up so And fear sets in and we horde hold tighter grasp. Harder to give away. The impact of this kind of response is give sparingly and reap sparinly. Behind this is the view that God is a Taker. He wants more of my money. He wants to take from me just like all the other people in my life see offering as paying a bill give little bit. Picture of the Scrooge. Hold on grasp for more and is miserable. Some people see God as a Taker.
View #2 Sees God as the Giver This person sees that God is the one who gives the money they have. Everything I have comes from God. The ability to work the job I have the resources he has provided it all. And so I am a steward and give to him and his kingdom and when I do he provides more for me to give
Here’s the point: Cheerful giving that God loves does not depend on how much is in your checkbook or your savings account, but on your view of God!
Which view of God do you have? When you trust God as the giver, He sets you free to cheerful generous giver.
2. Cheerful givers decide what to give and then give willingly.
Notice v.7 “Each man/woman should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Not under compulsion – not forced giving. No one is forcing you to give.
Not reluctantly – I really don’t want to give.
Each should give what has decided in his heart. This means Sit down think about it, pray about it. Remember God is a generous giver and he provides. Then do it willingly.
Notice also it is between you and the LORD. What you decide in your heart.
I know some of you give online and give recurring gifts online. Great. I decided I want to write a check to I can decide to give and then enjoy giving it. Just this morning since today is firstfruits Sunday, I wrote my check and added the additional amount to our regular offering and wrote how much pathway and how much building in the memo line. Some of you give cash use the envelopes and write for building or general fund. Cheerful givers decide what to give and then give it willingly.
3. Cheerful givers trust God to provide after they give so they can keep on giving.
Cheerful giving starts and ends with God. He provides on the front end and the back end.
Look at vv.8-10"God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, 'He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor, His righteousness abides forever'" He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
There is a teaching out there today that says if you give God will give back to you so you can be rich wealthy. Prosperity Gospel. It is based on half-truth. Yes God says here he will provide for you when you give and multiply your seed but not so you can indulge on yourself and spend more on yourself. God does not bless us to enrich our own selfishness. He does it so we have more to give. He gives generously to those who give generously so you can keep giving generously. It’s the parable of the talents. To the one who invested he gave more to keep on investing in his kingdom. Yes This includes finances but also your time and your service.
This is where the phrase you can’t outgive God comes from. You give and he supplies so you can give more. Try it and see if his promise isn’t true.
Before church planting God called Jennifer and me into missions. We said, “God we’ll do anything but don’t ask us to raise our support.” Guess what? That’s what he asked us to do. So we got into it and made the decision to give 10% to the church off the top as a first priority even when we weren't sure how we'd pay our bills. Yet, over the years God faithfully provided food, clothing, and shelter. On top of that he provided for us to pay off my student loans. On top of that He provided for us to get into our first house – the same one we live in here in Elmhurst. On top of that he allowed me to travel to over 35 countries in teh span of 8 years to see the amazing things he was doing around the world. Crazy. It makes no sense. We can’t out give God!
God loves a cheerful giver!
More in Thoughts from our Pastors
March 15, 20197 Questions to Ask about the Gray Areas in Your Life
February 17, 2019Why it's important to celebrate Black History Month
December 12, 2018Cheerful Giving