God Loves the Cheerful Giver
If you’ve been reading along this past month (and I hope you have!) we have considered some weighty things in terms of our giving practices. We have been challenged to give generously, purposefully, and sacrificially. This means not mindlessly tossing in whatever loose change you have in your pocket as the plate goes by. It might mean reconsidering the amount you give each week. Perhaps you have been challenged to sacrifice certain luxuries in your budget so you can increase your contributions to the work of the church. Hopefully, you have recognized through these past studies that giving is an aspect of worship, and therefore deserves this kind of careful consideration.
But that being said, it’s still a difficult subject. But as we close our mini-series on giving, I want to impress one final thing: none of it matters if it is not done cheerfully. We can give with generosity, with purpose, with sacrifice, and still do it begrudgingly. We can make it rote. Our offerings can be the result of a cold calculus that has no hint of spirituality whatsoever. If we are not giving with joy, with cheerfulness, then why are we giving? Giving is meant to be a response to the Gospel—a response to God’s indescribable gift of salvation in His Son. If that hasn’t moved us to cheerfulness, then we have missed something terribly important.
This is something to keep in mind as you and your family think about what your giving should look like. Tithing (a tenth percent) was commanded in the Old Covenant, but this restriction is no longer binding to us as we belong to the New Covenant. However, ten percent is at least a good starting point (although, much is to be said for the fact that since the blessings of the New Covenant have increased exponentially our giving should as well). Nevertheless, Paul tells us very clearly there is no magic number or percent in giving: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). See what he’s saying here? The heart of the matter is what counts. We must all determine to give that which we know we can give cheerfully. If one person were to give twenty percent of their income reluctantly, but another only gave ten percent cheerfully, which will God use more bountifully? He loves the cheerful giver, not the reluctant giver.
If we are to truly give with cheerfulness, then we must work on being content with what we have. We need to work on our Tenth Commandment. We will never loosen the grip we have on our finances and possessions if we are insatiably always wanting more. Jeremiah Burroughs has famously written on The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. He says that “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quirt, gracious frame o spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” This contentedness cannot come from external things, like jobs, money, possessions—they are all here one minute and gone the next. Our contentment must come from something internal, Burroughs says, because we can take that wherever we go.
Let your contentment come from “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Imagine how lifeless Paul’s command to give from the heart would be if Christ were not in our hearts by His Spirit. But since Christ fills us, cheerful giving must flow out.