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.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT
Many will take this verse out of context as an excuse for their not giving at all or not tithing faithfully to the church. But if you read the context of this passage, it isn’t about tithing, but it is about a gift from their group to help another group in need. This is about a gift they had promised, and the time was drawing near for them to gather the gift for those in need.
This verse does not mean that “we don’t have to give if we don’t feel like it”. Just like the many passages about freedom do not mean “we don’t have to obey if we don’t feel convicted against it”. And there is nothing false in these statements alone, because God does give you the opportunity to choose, but the answer (your choice) does speak to your heart, and there are different consequences depending on whether or not your heart is self centered or God centered.
You’re right. We don’t “have to” obey God. But do we also understand that there are consequences?
Do we understand yet that complying out of obligation doesn’t even meet the mark of living a life surrendered as a willing, cheerful, humble servant of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Do we understand that our answers to these questions, about the state of our hearts, and the reasons behind our actions – can give us insight into the deceitfulness and trickery of our own thoughts and desires? It can help us examine ourselves to find out whether or not we are standing firm upon the foundation of Christ.
And who are we to measure ourselves by? Not one another. No, that will only lead us into judgement, condemnation, and pride. We are to measure ourselves against the way, the truth, the life of Jesus Christ – and finding ourselves insufficient, we are to lean upon His grace and His righteousness.
At this point, let me interrupt for an important distinction. If you are relying upon grace to excuse your remaining a slave to sin – you must examine your heart closely, because grace is no license to sin – cheap grace with no repentance is no grace at all and you do not yet know Christ. You may know “about” Christ, but how can you claim that you know Him and He walks with you when you are still controlled by your true master? And if you have reached that state where you believe yourself righteous and walking in right standing with the Lord by the law – you must examine your heart closely, because spiritual pride and good works is no stairway to heaven – sacrificial living with no love and mercy is empty religious practice from those who do not know God, those who do not desire to know Him closely and love Him personally.
So having said all of this, can we agree that at times in the past we have dolled ourselves about what being a Christ follower and believer means? Can we now see why being a cheerful giver is the goal?
Can we speak spiritually for a moment about this subject as well?
If I am led to give because of obligation, do you see how that can be flowing from a wrong spirit (shame, guilt, condemnation, etc)? If I am led give so that others will think highly of me, do you see how that can be flowing from a wrong spirit (pride, seeking honor from men, etc)? If I am being led to give because I’m expecting payment in return, do you see how that can be flowing from a wrong spirit (manipulation, chasing worldly prosperity, etc)?
But isn’t it clear that if my reasons are loving God and loving others – and if I’m led to give out of grattitude for what, He has given me, isn’t it clear that I am being led by that Holy Spirit that bears the fruit that fulfills the law?
Yes, we have quickly let ourselves step into high minded words and thoughts about His ways, about spiritual things, about those things so far above our own understanding – even while our actions humble us and keep us safely at the foot of the cross. Let’s not let such high thinking leave us anywhere but as a humble servant and follower of Jesus Christ, the Word of God come in the flesh to dwell among us, He who is from the beginning and who shall be evermore.
And knowing this, believing this, how could we not want to give generously and cheerfully? How could we cling to what is worthless and temporary – instead of clinging solely to Christ who is our portion and our prize eternal?
We must examine our hearts, friends. And when we k know our heart is not quite right, when we realize that we fall short of the mark, we should continue to pray for growth and healing in that area of our lives – we should talk with Him and walk with Him, under His guidance both in heartfelt prayer and in earnest seeking through the written Word of God. He is here, He is available to us, friend. Our life choices are opportunities to be drawn closer to Him by leaning to Him – or to choose separation.
I hope we will lean to Him today, friends. I hope we will know the love of His annointing of the Holy Spirit and that we will pour out His love into the world through our cheerful giving, through generosity, through charity, through seeing the needs of the world and not turning away.
May we be cheerfully generous, friends.