Around here there’s a phrase that gets thrown around often. “We live in one of the richest counties in America!” Touted as a brag, used as a guilt trip, this phrase serves many purposes, none of which I’ve yet seen in a positive light. One of our first services we attended when looking for a church, a pastor used this phrase to incite a giving heart to his congregation. While we definitely all could take a few extra glances around to notice how abundantly we live, and how this abundance reflects where we’ve prioritized our spending (to include lack of giving), giving in response to pressure is not how we are called to give.
Paul writes to us, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (1 Corinthians 9:7,8 NLT)
You may or may not have noticed a theme in the Bible. Your heart is what God looks at, and the heart is what reveals to Him if you truly love Him (1 John 5:3 NLT) or if you’re just blindly following commandments. What lies in our abundance can be the unveiling of where are hearts live. Jesus warns us, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21 NLT) Giving cheerfully is the key to our generosity, not the dollar amount nor the amount in correspondence to our wealth.
Suppose your pastor asked you to donate as much as you could but wouldn’t tell you where it was going, who it would be blessing, and how they would benefit from your generosity. Most of us would be very hesitant to hand over a large amount of money without having any idea as to the whereabouts our blessings would be headed. God doesn’t do that to us. While we may not know every single situation or person we are giving to, He gives us the knowledge through His word about the ministry of giving. At least two things, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, happens when we participate in the ministry of giving. One of them is that someone else’s needs are being met and they know that someone who walks in the faith of Christ has given it to them. When they know this, their gratitude will be lifted to God. Your generosity ministers to them through your simple and helpful act. Secondly, each time you give to others your heart continues to grow with God as you prove your love for Him by giving. The more we give, the more we minister and the more our hearts learn to love for others, not love ourselves, and our wants.
Understanding “giving” allows us to better understand the reasons so that we can have a joyful heart when giving.
“Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.” - 1 John 5:3 NLT