Christianity 201

November 14, 2020

If You’re Going to Give Reluctantly, Don’t Give at All

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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This is our eleventh time with veteran Christian musician and author John Fischer who writes faithfully at The Catch. I hope you’ll click through today because John’s ministry is currently in a fundraising campaign and you’re welcome to donate. (I realized after typing this that this bit of information may be seen as coinciding with the subject of today’s devotional, and I assure you I only noticed this after!)

Click the header below to read at source.

A Harvest of Generosity

God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. (2 Corinthians 9:7 MSG)

It is very clear, in all the biblical teachings on giving, that God doesn’t want gifts that are begrudgingly given. He doesn’t want pain in my heart as I give. He wants joy. In fact, if that which is brought is brought reluctantly, God would rather not see it. After all, He already owns all things anyway, so God is actually more concerned with what the gift does to us than anything it will address in the real world. It’s not like we have to give God a helping hand poor God out here. He doesn’t need it; we need it. We need to give. God is seeking our joy. He knows all about the joy of giving; He wants us to know it, too. Give, or shrivel up in selfishness.

To be sure there were needs to be met with the funds that were given when Paul wrote this. The early churches were mostly poor with lots of persecution going on. There were plenty of needs everywhere, but God was certainly capable of meeting those needs. He was seeking, more importantly, the benefit to the giver, as Paul goes on to write: 

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous(2 Corinthians 9:10-11)

See what’s happening here? There’s joy all around, and an increase in generosity.

It’s the biblical principle of giving. When you give, more will be given to you. I am not talking about prosperity doctrine – that doctrine of great material wealth to the giver as a motivation to give. That is the wrong emphasis, yet it grows out of an overwhelming amount of evidence, in both the Old and New Testaments, of the blessings of giving. It’s just that we are not to seek the blessing, but the giving itself, the joy of giving, and an overwhelming appreciation for the amazing grace of the Giver who makes it all possible. God brings increase with joyful giving so we can give more.

God loves a cheerful giver” (9:7). The word “cheerful” is the Greek word from which we get our word “hilarious.” Thus, God loves a hilarious giver, and the reason for that hilarity is manifold, but my favorite is the hilarity of God’s grace to me. When I take a good long look at the fallibility, frailty and downright foolishness of my human nature, and then I grasp the fact that God loves me and has bestowed His grace upon me in abundance to where He sees no flaws in me, the true reaction to this is comic. It is astonishing. It is improbable and impossible. It is nothing short of hilarious. As Robert Capon calls it, “the grandest joke ever told.”

And when you realize you are the recipient of this bold, audacious grace, and you are filled up with God’s undeserved favor and love, you can only laugh hilariously at your incredible good fortune, and give it out to everyone around you.

I remember the day I realized God wanted me to live – no, I wasn’t recovering from some life-threatening illness, I simply realized that God wanted me alive on the earth so He could know and love me – I had an uncontrollable urge to walk up to everyone I saw, hug them, and tell them that God wanted them alive, too! That’s just what the Spirit of God does in us — He fills us up and spills over into everyone around us. When we submit to the Holy Spirit, we become completely and utterly vulnerable, and there’s no telling what might happen then. We might just become a hilarious giver!


Bonus item: Here’s a classic song from John Fischer’s 1982 album Dark Horse.

Only a few enter the small gate
Only a few walk in the narrow way
Only a few taking the long road to life
Only a few hearing the Savior
Only a few doing his favor
Only a few changing the darkness to light

 

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