31 – How to Be a Cheerful Giver
A few years ago I volunteered to help raise money for a major Christian ministry. I signed off on a lofty goal because I thought everyone would leap at the chance to invest in such a high impact ministry. Boy, was I naive. I was soundly defeated. Many did give, but I found many Christian men don’t know how to give. Either they don’t have a vision for giving, or they are afraid they will run out of money if they part with any of it.
Can I be honest with you? In our work we see a lot of men who just don’t get it – they are not cheerful givers, they are not giving in proportion to the way they have been enriched, and as a result they are missing many blessings from God.
What can we do about that? What would convince you (if you are not already convinced) to be a cheerful and generous giver? And what would a “cheerful” giver actually give? Consider the following four points…
God Loves to Give
First, we can be liberated to give cheerfully when we plumb the depths of God’s cheerfulness in giving to us.
Every living person benefits from God’s generosity. “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).
Nobody loves to give more than God. From the blazing beauty of a brilliant sunrise to enabling you to close a huge deal that took months to close, God is the giver of every good gift. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17). He delights in giving good gifts to His people.
The Greatest Cause
Second, we give cheerfully when we sense we are on a mission for God.
More millions of men and billions of dollars have been mobilized by one single speech than any other. Easily the most incendiary speech of human history, the final earthly words of Jesus comprise the most compact expression of the Christian mission ever uttered.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
It’s all there. Authority. Challenge. Mission. Adventure. Power. Direction. Purpose. Comfort. It is our task. It is our mission.
Nothing should make a Christian man more “cheerful” than to hear that his financial investment helped someone pass from death to eternal life.
Third, we will sense the greatest impact when our giving is intentional.
Most of us carefully plan our personal financial investment strategy. We research mutual funds, keep track of quarterly reports and P/E ratios, or scan the financial section to see which bank has the highest rates on CDs.
Yet many men do not have a strategic plan for giving money to help build the kingdom of God. They give random amounts at random times to random causes. The Bible suggests that we be intentional,
I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting (2 Corinthians 9:7, The Message)
Your charitable giving is a spiritual investment just as important as your financial investments. Why not write down the three best ministry opportunities you know about? Make sure your local church is at the top of your list. The church is God’s ordained institution for living out the gospel and impacting our world. The church baptizes us, marries us, and buries us – all the while bringing us to faith and maturity in Christ. Be intentional in your giving.
Fourth, if we are going to give at all we should give what God wants, not what we “make up” in our own minds.
In the Bible there is a direct link between generosity and cheerfulness. The Bible says,
Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. … God loves it when the giver delights in the giving (2 Corinthians 9:6-7, The Message).
How much does a “cheerful” giver give, anyway? Reflect carefully on what I am about to say. Often, our Christian culture tends to teach that we own our money and should give some of it back to God. The Bible, however, teaches that God owns everything and allows us to keep up to 90 percent of it, for which we remain responsible as stewards.
We will give cheerfully when we understand the nature of stewardship. You see, it’s not that we give God 10% and keep the rest. Rather, He gives us 100% to manage for Him and asks us to voluntarily give back 10% or more to test our hearts.
We believe you can’t outgive God, and God doesn’t really start giving “lavishly” until we show our faithfulness to put resources “back into the soil.” The ten percent tithe commanded in the Old Testament is a good place to start. If someone thinks they fully honor God’s generosity to them with anything less than 10%, the burden of proof rests on them to show they are being a cheerful, generous giver.
Studies show that many Christians assume they are giving a higher percentage of their income to God’s work than they really are. Instead of verbally estimating your giving, why not actually look on last year’s tax return to see how much you gave? Then divide that number by your total income (minus any business expenses). That’s your percentage of giving.
As we grow in our understanding of the riches of Christ’s grace and mercy, our hearts will fill up with gratitude. We will be compelled to do something to express that gratitude financially. God has given us everything we have, and He calls us to thankfully, cheerfully, release it back to Him. The Bible reports an amazing story of spontaneous cheerful giving,
Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches (in Macedonia), pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring ofpure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could – far more than they could afford! – pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. (2 Cor. 8:2-5, The Message)
Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of “cheer” and joy? We can! Plumb the depths of God’s cheerfulness in giving to you! Think of yourself as on a mission for God. Be intentional (that’s when you will have the greatest impact). And be sure you give what God wants, not just what you “make up” in your own mind.
1. Do you have a vision for giving, and why or why not? If not, how could the four points discussed help you get that vision?
2. Have you been afraid that giving biblically will lead to financial problems? By faith, is that really true? What will you do differently?
3. Prayerfully ask God for the next step you should take to convert your wallet to Christ. As a sign of your commitment, write this step down in the space below.
1 (Christianity Today, “Anatomy of a Giver,” May 19, 1997)
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
© 1997. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.