cheerful giving 101

What does it mean to be a cheerful giver?

Giving in the church is a little confusing. Unlike Jews in the Old Testament, we are not commanded to tithe 10% of our income to our primary place of worship. We are, however, exhorted to financially support both our local church and other believers in need around the world.

In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul reminds the church in Corinth that they had promised to collect money for other believers. He writes, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

The word translated "cheerful" is the Greek hilaros, and means pretty much the same—cheerful, joyous. But it also has a sense of readiness. It means to be ready to act at a moment's notice, to be prepared.

With today's economy, it can be difficult for even the most faithful to give to the church cheerfully—either joyously or readily. There are some things we can do, however, that might help change our attitude.

- Remember where it came from. James reminds us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights …" (James 1:17). Every blessing we have, including money, is from God.

- Remember what we owe. Romans 8:32 says, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" The "all things" here refers to victory in this life and salvation for the next. A monetary donation is nothing compared to what we receive because of Jesus' sacrifice.

- Remember what the money is used for. The money that Paul collected was usually earmarked for the poor saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). These were people who stayed in Jerusalem and developed the foundation of the church. Many lived in poverty after abandoning homes and farms to learn more about Jesus. Ultimately, this is what our offering should go to—the equipping of the saints and the spread of the Gospel. If it doesn't, we need to rethink who is worthy of our gifts.

- Remember God's promise to the giver. Jesus tells us, "give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap" (Luke 6:38). This does not mean that God will always financially bless those who give, but if we make Him a priority, He will take care of us.

God's gifts are meant not only to bless us, bur for us to use to bless others (1 Peter 4:10). To give grudgingly or not at all is a sign of a heart issue—that we value money, comfort, and security more than the Kingdom of God. It is only when we learn to give ourselves to Christ that we can cheerfully give to support His purpose. If we find giving money to God's work difficult, we probably haven't given our heart, either.
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