Do you enjoy giving? For most of us, the answer depends on the circumstances. If we’re giving to a loved one, we usually enjoy it. If we’re dropping some change or a few bills in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas, we’re probably glad to be able to help. If we’re giving to the IRS . . . well . . . “cheerful” is not the first term that comes to mind; and we usually don’t think of paying our taxes as “giving.” What about giving to your church? Do you do that cheerfully, or is it more of a chore or duty for you? In 2 Corinthians 9:7 the Apostle Paul says that we should give to God’s work “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” At the time he was writing, the Christians in Jerusalem were undergoing financial hardship. In response to this need, Paul was taking up a collection as he traveled from city to city. When the Christians in Corinth heard about the need in Jerusalem, they had been eager to help. Paul was writing to them to make sure their donations would be ready when he arrived in Corinth. He also wanted to encourage them to give with cheerful hearts rather than out of a sense of guilt or obligation. Giving cheerfully is relatively easy when we’re giving voluntarily to a person or cause that’s important to us. Giving cheerfully is much more difficult when we feel pressured or manipulated, or when we don’t really have a heart for those to whom we are giving. If we’re giving to God’s work, we ought to give cheerfully. But, if we’re honest, sometimes our heart isn’t in it. How can we grow in our ability to give to God’s work cheerfully? Start by praying. Ask God to give you a heart for what He’s doing in the world around us. Whether it’s helping people with their physical needs (such as Hurricane Sandy relief) or with their spiritual needs (such as hearing about God’s provision for us in Jesus’ death and resurrection), ask God to give you the same kind of love as He has for them. When my heart is filled with the love God has for me and those around me, cheerful giving will be the natural result.
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.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)