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God Loves a Cheerful Giver

2 Cor 9:7, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

                The above verse is a familiar one that we often quote in reference to our responsibility to “lay by in store” on the first day of the week when we come together.  That such is a valid application of this text cannot be disputed.  In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Paul said, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”  In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul is addressing some concerns about their carrying this out.  It is recorded that the Corinthians had made a commitment to give for this cause and had not completed the work.  In 2 Cor. 8:8-15 Paul encourages them to complete what they had determined a year earlier.  Earlier in this chapter, Paul cited the example of the brethren in Macedonia, who in their deep poverty gave beyond their ability to help their needy brethren in Judea.  (8:1-5)  In chapter 9, our text is in the midst of a challenge to give with a proper attitude. 

                We find in this text, not only authority for a treasury (and collection), but also implication that it is something not to be neglected.  As you study the New Testament (and the examples of the Old Testament) we see that God expects us to give as we have prospered, when we assemble on the first day of the week.  There are many reasons why this ought to be done.

                Furthermore, our text indicates that this is something we ought to WANT to do and that needs to be done with a CHEERFUL attitude.  God doesn’t want us to give just because we “have to”.  He wants us to give because we want to and consider it a pleasure, yea even an honor, to give liberally from the very top of our blessings, and not our leftovers.   I am convinced that many of us, if we examine ourselves could do a better job in this responsibility as Christians.    We could devote an entire article to this need, but what I have mentioned thus far is sufficient for the point I wish to make – Giving back to the Lord on the first day of the week is commendable giving, but is it the ONLY thing we are compelled to give cheerfully?  I think not.

                Christians are to be cheerful givers in everything.  At no point, should our service to God be without cheerfulness OR without a giving attitude.   In all things, God will simply not accept anything less than our very best (cf. Matt. 6:33, Matt. 22:37, Mal. 1:8, etc.).   Let us consider some things that we ought to give cheerfully.

 

Give yourself first.  In 2 Cor. 8:1-5, as mentioned above, the Macedonians were commended because of their willingness to give above and beyond their abilities.  The reason they were willing to give was, “they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” (vs. 5)   Paul told the Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:1-2)  To be a living sacrifice means that you have surrendered yourself to Christ and His will.  This is not something that will be done begrudgingly.  Paul gives us the example of this in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”   Speaking to the Corinthians He said, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” (2 Cor. 12:15)  How cheerfully, will you give yourself to the Lord? (Mark. 10:29-30)

 

Give love.  Love is a pivotal attitude in the life of a Christian. It is at the foundation of every relationship we are involved in (God, Jesus, one another, our neighbors, and even our enemies).  Christian love is demonstrated by how much we care.  This love when properly developed is not something forced, rather it is developed.  To fully understand this love, consider how much God loved us (John 3:16, John 15:13).   We certainly do not deserve His love, yet He sent Jesus to die for us.  In so doing, He told us HOW MUCH He really does love us.  1 John 4:7-11 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  Let us notice the concluding verse, “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”   This is something we ought to do cheerfully.  Galatians 5:13-14 calls for us to “through love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” At times it is offered, even when not reciprocated.  Paul spoke of his willingness to love others, even when he was not loved back (2 Cor. 12:15).  AND, it ought to be cheerfully directed toward God as well.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3. How much Christian love are you willing to give to others?  You won’t regret loving someone. 

 

Give forgiveness.  We are reminded in scripture of what will happen to us if we fail to forgive one another.  Jesus said in Matt 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”   This point is emphasized so strongly that it is repeated elsewhere (Col. 3:13, Eph. 4:32, Mark 11:25-26, Matt. 18:35, etc.).  That might lead one to ask what God’s attitude toward us is in forgiveness.  Would it not be safe to say that He gladly forgives us, when we come to Him?  Consider 2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:3-4 in which God desires that all men be saved.  Consider all that God has done, you know that it pleases Him to forgive.  Having said that, are we willing to forgive one another cheerfully?  In Matthew 18:22, Jesus answers the inquiry of Peter about forgiveness.  Jesus tells Him that we ought to be willing to forgive others “up to seventy times seven.  Such forgiveness would require a disposition where one WANTS to forgive others.  I realize that forgiveness is not always easy to do, but the desire to forgive one another ought to be something that brings us joy.  As an aside, could there be coincidence that the word forgive includes the word give?

 

Give of your time.  The life of a Christian is one where we give God considerable time.  Not only should we assemble with the saints, but we find in scriptures the need to study God’s word, pray, be an encouragement to our brethren and even to seek and teach the lost.  All of these things require time.  The truly devoted Christian will give of his time liberally and cheerfully to the Lord.  In fact, the strength of a Christian correlates with the amount of time he spends doing things for God and His people.  Paul said in Eph 5:15-16, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.   How tragic it is when one considers it a drudgery to serve God.  Like the Israelites in Malachi who in 1:12-13 described their service to God as a weariness.  God was insulted with such attitudes.  Will you give your time liberally and cheerfully to Him?  Observe this: If you dread serving God and giving Him adequate time in your life, chances are your priorities are not what they ought to be.  Resolve to joyfully serve Him more.  The more time you give, the more pleasurable it will be come.

 

Give of your talents.  In Matthew 25:13-30 we read the Parable of the Talents in which 3 servants were given talents (a huge sum of money) to manage while their master was away.  Each was given responsibility according to his ability (vs. 15).  When the master returned, they were accountable.  He who wasted his abilities was condemned, while those who used their abilities were blessed.  As Christians, we realize that everything we have and are actually belongs to God (Jas. 1:17, Luke 17:10).  We are described as stewards and expected to be faithful as such (1 Cor. 4:1-2).  As we study scripture, we learn that we ALL have abilities.  The question is will we use whatever abilities we have been blessed with for His glory WITH cheerfulness? Rom. 12:6-8, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.“

 

Give thanksgiving.  Over and over in scripture we told to be thankful.  1 Thess. 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks.”  Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.   1 Tim. 4:4 says, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.  We live in a society where gratitude is lacking.  Far too many are selfish in their pursuits and ungrateful with what they have.  As Christians, we need to be overwhelmingly thankful.  Are we?  Again, I cannot help but consider how the word thanksgiving includes giving within it. 

 

Truly, our giving needs to be cheerful and abundant in every aspect of our lives. God loves a cheerful giver.  Gary Henry in his book Reaching Forward, (Feb. 2) gave the following quote, “There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, ‘I hate to,’ duty giving says, ‘I ought to,’ thanksgiving says, ‘I want to.’ The first comes from constraint, the second from a sense of obligation, the third from a full heart. Nothing much is conveyed in grudge giving since ‘the gift without the giver is bare.’ Something more happens in duty giving, but there is no song in it. Thanksgiving is an open gate into the love of God” (Robert N. Rodenmayer).                  Let us consider this in all that we do.  Are you a cheerful giver?