Learning To Give Cheerfully – Is That Possible?
Have you ever wondered how to become a cheerful giver? Does every appeal for funds seem like another financial burden someone wants to lay on you? How can you maintain an eager joy to give when every day’s mail brings another unsolicited request for funds? In 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian church gives us insight into how cheerful giving occurs. In summary, it says becoming a cheerful giver takes encouragement from trusted brothers, a commitment to give, dealing with obstacles to cheerful giving, and following through by actually giving.
In this passage Paul mentions three encouragements for us to consider. First, men excited about the ministry to the believers in Jerusalem were coming to arrange in advance the gift to be collected. Their arrival was meant to give time for the Corinthians to see their excitement and to give without the pressure of a last-minute plea for funds. Second, Paul pointed out that reaping is proportional to sowing. If the Corinthian church wanted to see a big spiritual harvest then they must sow accordingly. I have a small vegetable garden and the size of the green bean harvest from it is directly related to the number of green bean seeds I plant. The same is true with giving. Thirdly, God loves a cheerful giver. Our God gives cheerfully to us and when we reflect that same quality, it pleases God. Think of that!
In this passage Paul mentions two commitments made by the Corinthian church to this ministry. First, they had promised as a church to contribute to the offering being collected by the Gentile churches for the support of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. They had made a commitment and Paul was reminding them to meet that commitment. Second, Paul pointed out that each church member was to give as he had decided in his heart. The church’s commitment to give was to be fulfilled by each church member’s decision to give. Cheerful giving is the result of commitment, planning, and follow through.
In this passage Paul mentions three different mindsets that could hinder giving; 1) Exaction – Viewing the request as a demand for payment; 2) Reluctance – The giver is unsure about the merits of the gift or the way the funds are being handled or how much to give, in short he is undecided and so hesitant to give; and 3) Compulsion – The giver feels forced into giving to the project. Paul combats these three obstacles by ensuring the giver has sufficient reason and time to come to a firm decision in his heart. In this passage, we see that the brothers are to arrange in advance for the gift to be collected. There was to be no last-minute hurry, plea, or pressure to give. We know from 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 that Paul’s instruction to the churches was to collect the gift each week and save it up so no collection be made when he would arrive to transport the gift to Jerusalem. It was Paul’s plan that the church members be given a reason and time to give so that it might be a bountiful and willing gift.
Finally, God loves a cheerful giver. The individual who acts, actually giving to the project, is the one who pleases God, not the one who has good intentions. When all preparations have been made and the giver has committed to support the project, the gift must still be given. The giver must follow through by giving his promised gifts.
Grace Fellowship’s general fund provides an ideal opportunity for each of us to grow in cheerful giving. First, giving to the general fund is critical because it supports the primary ministries of Grace Fellowship. These ministries are vital to our spiritual and emotional wellbeing and provide us opportunities for service to the body of Christ and our communities. It is also easy to see that if we sow bountifully to the general fund we reap bountifully from the primary ministries. Likewise, if we sow sparingly our primary ministries will struggle. Second, while we publicly create the budget and seek its approval from the leadership and congregation, it is left up to each of us to decide in our hearts how much to give. There is no pressure exerted to say that each person is responsible for a certain portion of the budget. Our giving is done in secret as no accounting is undertaken (other than for tax purposes) to track the amount each person gives. This minimizes pride, ill-will, pressure, and division that could erupt if we tried to enforce an individual giving requirement. Instead each of us is free to decide in our heart, before God, how much to give to the general fund. Like Paul suggested, every week Grace Fellowship provides an opportunity to give to the general fund so that each of us has opportunity to decide to cheerfully, willingly, and regularly give. Yes, the Grace Fellowship general fund is a great opportunity to learn how to be a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:5-7 (ESV)
5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
(Image: Meghana Kulkarni)