Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cheerful Givers

Thursday, March 12, 2015
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 (NLT)
When Paul encouraged the believers to give “cheerfully” he was using a word that means “courageous” or “bold”.  I get that!  Most of us who live paycheck to paycheck have at least a little fear that we will run out of money before we run out of month.
One of my favorite stories is about the group of ten men who weren’t very good sailors.  They got into a small wind and their sailboat capsized and sank.  They were better swimmers than sailors, and they all made it safely to an isolated little island.
Their collective attitude was jubilant at first, just glad to be alive.  Soon, however, one-by-one, the men began to panic and despair over the realization that since the tiny island was in the middle of nowhere, and they hadn’t told anyone where they were going, they probably were never going to be rescued.  Of the ten, only Sam seemed happy and calm. 
It didn’t take long for the nine despairing men to begin to get really angry at Sam’s cheery smile; there was even talk of lynching!  Finally they reached the boiling point and one of them demanded an explanation from Sam as to why in the world (considering their circumstances) he was so annoyingly cheerful and calm.  Sam answered, You poor nerds don’t understand how fortunate we are; I’m not worried, I make twelve million dollars a year…and I’m a regular tither at my church; my pastor will find me!
Now, really, there are much better reasons to be a courageously-bold giver than the remote possibility your pastor is so dependent on you, that if you give you’ll never be stranded beyond hope. 
But, for some people the idea of putting 10% of their income in the offering plate…well, that is just a little much, isn’t it?
I try to preach on giving from a Biblical perspective at least once or twice a year.  That never interferes with criticism from some people that money is all the church cares about.  Actually, if that were the case…if there is a church or pastor, or congregation, or a church treasurer where money was the top consideration…I’d have to have the same attitude…let that church fold!
Of the Church pastors with which I have been associated over the years, the number one interest has always been two-fold:
a.      They want to see people come to Christ so their souls are relieved of the terrible sin-consequence which is Hell.
b.      They want to see those who know Christ grow strong in Christ, so their ministry will make the Kingdom of God a strong place of love and blessing in the community.
Beloved, that does not sound like a greedy church; it sounds more like something to which I can give (cheerfully) whatever I can give.
Most of us really want to be cheerful givers, but we do fear running short.  That’s why it’s critically-important to remember what the Shepherd said to the disciples facing a storm, and what they thought was a ghost coming at them, walking on water:
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”  Matthew 14:27 (NLT)

For You Today

Today might be a good day to look over what you give, and just as importantly how you give it.
And then make some intentional plans about your giving to further the Gospel reach, and bless those who have more need than you, and see the Father at work in what you do.
When you give that way you’ll also see Him change your fear into faith.

[1] Title Image: By Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer, via Wikimedia Commons

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