GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
‘He who scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.’
Now also he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be make rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God……
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”

The basis for cheerful giving is the grace of God: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” — the gift of a Savior, the gift of life, the gift of eternal life, the gift of God’s love, the gift of all God’s blessings. We give to meet the needs of God’s people but also to overflow in our thanks to God. There are not enough words to describe all the ways we are thankful to God.

I thank God for revealing his love to me through faithful Sunday School teachers and pastors, through family and friends, through the provision of education, the opportunity to travel and study, the advantage of being called to serve and learn from celebrated mentors, the good fortune of meeting and falling in love with a beautiful, brilliant and gracious lady who shared my vocation, the gift of good health, two lovely daughters, four grandchildren and spheres of ministry in congregations and colleges that have stretched me and enabled me to grow in grace and the knowledge of God. I have more than enough reasons for thanksgiving to God to make me a cheerful giver, especially to those who have not been as blessed as I have.

What is true for me is also true for all of us who have been favored with the blessing of faith in Christ and the enjoyment of his grace in congregations where we are spiritually fed and nurtured, especially those of us who live in affluent and secure circumstances. Those who are aware of their blessings, and are thankful to God for them, will give to the needs of others and the furtherance of the ministries of the Gospel, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but cheerfully. It is only those who are ungrateful, who are fearful and anxious about tomorrow, and doubt whether God will enable them to have enough to live on, who give reluctantly and not cheerfully. They forget the provision of the Lord in their lives over the years and that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need you will abound in every good work.”

I am thankful of those who are giving cheerfully in their churches. God loves a cheerful giver. God loves you if you are giving cheerfully and thankfully. Last year in my church the offerings supported three categories of expenses: Administrative (personnel and programs) 50 percent of the budget, Buildings and Grounds (maintenance, utilities and insurance) 20 percent of the budget, and Outreach (missions and other Christian ministries) 30 percent of the budget. We supported 28 local, national and international Christian ministries through our Outreach budget in 2014.

Cheerful giving is planned giving, it is what we have decided in our hearts to give. We have prayed about it and sought to give generously as God has blessed us. We don’t give thoughtlessly, off the cuff, whatever we have left after our other priorities. Some can give more than others because of their circumstances. Jesus commented on the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. “He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins and said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'” (Luke 21:1-4)

In our church we have members who give less than $5.00 a week and members who can give over $200.00 a week. I doubt that we have many who qualify for poverty. We live in a high-rent district. When I write out my checks for the Sunday offering I compare it with how much we are spending on cable television, phone, messaging and internet service, travel, gas and car payments and maintenance, home mortgage, insurance, club fees etc. We can cheerfully fork over hundreds of dollars each month to pay our bills and yet many reluctantly part with less than a few dollars a week in the offering. I can remember discovering that one of our wealthiest members who professed his enthusiastic support of my ministry when he moved away had given nothing to the church for years. He was all show and little substance.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about a merchant who had prospered in business and built a house in the country and he had enlarged it and laid out his grounds at great expense. When he went to his office, he was called upon by a representative of a society, and he replied to his requests, “I really cannot afford to give anything; I have so many calls, I cannot do it.” He was a man who had usually been very generous, and it touched his conscience a little afterwards to think that he should begin to stint in what he gave to his Lord. At night, he sat by the fireside meditating, and he said to himself, “I really do not know whether I was wise to build this house; it has brought a deal of expense; new furniture is needed, expenses have increased, the girls need more for clothes — everything is on a more lavish scale, and yet I have been stinting the Lord. I fear I have done amiss; I do not feel easy about it at all.”

As he was thinking he fell asleep. He saw the door open and there came into the room a very meek and lowly stranger. He advanced to him and said, “Sir, I have called upon you to ask for your help for a missionary society which sends the Gospel to those who do not know it. You are wealthy, will you give me help to send them the Word of Life?” He said, “You must excuse me; really, my expenses are so great that I must curtail. I am quite unable to give you anything; I must decline.” The stranger looked at him with a mournful glance, and said, “Perhaps you think that the work is too far away, and you do not give because the money is to be sent overseas. I will tell you then that there is a school for indigent children near your place of business, and it is about to be shut up for lack of funds; and there are poor little children ignorant of the love of God — will you give me a subscription to that object?” The merchant was a little vexed to be asked again, and he said, “Stop troubling me; I cannot afford it; I cannot give you anything.”

The stranger brushed a tear from his eyes, and he said, “Well then, I must ask you at least for something for the Bible Society. That, you see, lies at the root of everything; it gives away the Word of God, and surely, if you cannot afford to give to the Missionary Society, or to the School, you will give for the Word of God itself.” “No,” he said, “I have told you that I cannot do it,” and then — and then the aspect of the Stranger seemed to change, and though He was still meek and lowly, yet his countenance became majestic! There was a Glory in his face, and yet there were lines of grief, and he said, softly and very sternly, “Five years ago that little daughter of yours, with the fair hair, lay sick of the fever, and you prayed in the bitterness of your soul that the darling of your heart might not be taken from you, but that you might be spared that heavy stroke. Who heard that prayer, and gave you back your child?” The merchant covered his face with his hands, and felt ashamed. “Ten years ago,” said the same Voice, ‘you were in great difficulties. Checks were returned because of insufficient funds; you were on the verge of bankruptcy; your hair seemed as though it would turn gray with worry. To whom did you apply in the day of trouble, and who heard you, and who found you friends who tided you over your difficulties? Who did that for you? Once more,” said the Stranger, “fifteen years ago you felt the burden of your sins. You went up and down the world wringing your hands with fear, and crying ‘God have mercy upon me!’ Your heart was overwhelmed within you; who in that hour, spoke the forgiving words which canceled all your sins? Who took all your iniquities upon himself?” The merchant sobbed aloud, and trembled much when the Voice said, “If you will never ask anything on me again, I will never ask anything of you.” The man fell on his face before the Visitor, and said, “Take All!”

Whether it was a dream or not, it is certain that that merchant gave to the cause of Christ as few had ever done before. “God loves a cheerful giver.” Give out of a thankful heart. But first, have you given him your heart? Have you put your trust in Jesus? If not, this message is not for you; but if your heart belongs to the Lord, and has been washed in the blood of the Cross, let this Word sink deep into your ears, and deeper still, into your hearts, for “God loves a cheerful giver!”

(Subscribe to Ted’s blog at www.tedschroder.com. It will be sent to your email at no charge.)

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