In the book of Acts, Luke recorded that in the early church in Jerusalem, “all who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people” (Acts 2:44-45, 46b-47a NAB). The result? “And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (v 47).
In Philippians chapter 4, Paul praised the church in Philippi for materially supporting his needs despite their severe poverty and affliction. In fact, Paul told them they were the only church to do so. Consequently, Paul was more excited about the Philippians’ spiritual “profit that accrues to your account” (v 17) rather than the contribution itself; God looks more favorably at the attitude of the giver rather than at the gift itself.
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul used the example of the Philippian church’s continued eager insistence on giving out of “their joy and their profound poverty” (v 2) to support the church in Jerusalem as a rally call to the church in Corinth to follow through on their own commitment. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul wrote: “Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I was fascinated to learn that the word “cheerful” in verse 7 is the Greek word “hilarŏs” which means “hilarious.” We should all put on our Groucho Marx glasses and strive to become hilarious givers!
So . . . are you a hilarious giver, giving not out of compulsion or fear but with sacrificial willingness and expectancy? Are you eager in your giving? Does giving put a smile on your face, or does the thought of tithing make your hands sweat? Are you following the example of the widow who dropped her last two coins into the temple offering box out of pure, unencumbered hope (Mark 12:41-44)? Or are you more like the Pharisee who fasted and tithed and exalted himself before men and God while praying in the temple (Luke 18:10-14)? As Jesus said, that kind of attitude produces its own reward.
Have you ever thought that when you give, God may repay you with gifts even more priceless than money? Like opportunities? Good health? A ten-year-old car that keeps running flawlessly? What about experiences, or revelations of heaven on earth? A good marriage? Godly children? Divine appointments? Or talents beyond the realm of human possibility? God does give good gifts, we just need to open our hearts and eyes to what He is already doing, what He is already giving to us, and be thankful. “. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
“God is able to make every grace abundant for you,” Paul assured the church in Corinth, “so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NAB). We have the assurance that, as Paul himself experienced, “the one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for the food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10 NAB). In other words, don’t worry about what you give, because God will abundantly provide for your needs. After all, He is YHWH Yireh, the God Who provides; it’s all His anyway!
“For it is in giving that we receive,” says the Prayer of Saint Francis. Open your eyes and your heart and allow God to transform you into a truly joyful giver. Test Him in this, and see what He does!
Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes