Posted on Jun 01, 2020 by Mike LeDuke
God commands generosity. Giving — of our time, of our money, of our praise — is something that we must do.
And yet, it isn’t just the giving that is crucial.
All of this is meaningless, at least for us, if we simply give for the sake of giving, or because we are supposed to give.
“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3).
It isn’t just about the giving. Indeed, giving is hard — and we must do it, but we cannot simply give out of compulsion. If we do, we gain nothing. Instead, God cares about our attitude. This giving must be motivated from the right spirit. When we give, we should be giving because we recognize what we ourselves have been given — we recognize that God’s abundance, spiritually, has been poured upon us! Thus, we should give from a heart that is grateful and satisfied:
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
And yet, perhaps what is most astonishing about this is the way that Paul introduces this topic to the believers in Corinth. He doesn’t simply thank them for being cheerful givers — in fact, this entire section is his plea to them to give generously and to do it with the right attitude!
“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” (2 Corinthians 9:5).
In essence, Paul wanted to give the believers a reminder, or an early warning, that he was going to come and collect what they had pledged––and he wanted to remind them so that when he came to collect, they weren’t surprised or pressured to give in the moment. Instead, by warning them about the collection, he gave them time to think about it, and time to shape their attitude.
In other words, Paul recognized that our attitude toward giving is something that we can control.
We can decide whether we will be a cheerful giver, or a disdainful giver. Will we praise God, simply giving Him lip-service, but with hearts full of bitterness? Will we give of our time, but grumble that we had to spend a Saturday doing the work of God?
God is looking for givers — but not just people who give in their actions. God wants cheerful givers.
And thus, when we give it might hurt. But let’s reshape our attitude. Giving in an opportunity to serve. Giving is an opportunity to allow God to shape us––to take us from being those who are focused inward and on ourselves, and to change us to think about others.
Because that’s what generosity is all about. Generosity, with our time, with our money, and with our praise, is all about taking our mind off of ourselves and focusing on God, the Lord Jesus, and those around us.
And perhaps that’s why it’s so important that we’re motivated by love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Because otherwise, we’re simply giving for our own sake — because of guilt, because of our reputation, or because of pressure. And that misses the point.
So when we give, let’s remember why we are giving. Freely we have received — and so let us freely give, motivated by the goodness and the abundant love that has been shown to us by the Father and His son. When we realize the extent of what has been done for us, how could we not?
Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!
— Jason Hensley