God loves a cheerful giver
"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). The Revised Standard Version has "not reluctantly or under compulsion."
In the church of Christ each one is to give as he purposes in his own heart and there is to be no compulsion.
I once attended a Pentecostal tent meeting in Canada where buckets were passed around several times to collect money. For a half an hour the preacher pled with the people to give more and more. He drove a Cadillac.
I once visited a mass in West Flanders where the priest went up and down each row of chairs, holding out the collection basket and looking each person straight in the eye. When he came to me, I said: "No, thank you."
Worldly churches often use unscriptural methods of obtaining money. When I was a boy there was a building near our home that we called 'The Bingo Church'. The only sign was a large billboard with the words: 'Bingo Every Thursday Night!' Some denominations sell lottery tickets, have rummage sales and use all kinds of gimmicks to raise money.
Some misuse religion for material gain. Paul warned Timothy about such people, "men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself" (1 Timothy 6:5).
Giving is an important aspect of being a Christian, and an opportunity to give is provided on the Lord's day (1 Corinthians 16:2). But in the church of Christ we may not pressurize people to give or use worldly devices to obtain money. Christians give as they have purposed in their own heart and as the Lord has prospered them.
Church leaders have no right to tell people how much to give or to request pledges. How much someone gives is between him and God. Nor should we ask for funds from non-Christians. We should make it clear that visitors are not expected to contribute.
Paul wrote to Philemon: "But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary" (Philemon 14).
God wants us to give willingly out of love. When the tabernacle was built, "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering' " (Exodus 25:1,2).
We give cheerfully because God has given so much to us.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17). "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Jesus "gave Himself for our sins" (Galatians 1:4). "Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us" (Ephesians 5:2). God is a giver and He wants us to be like Him.
God wants us to give liberally.
When Paul explains how each member of the body is to function, he says "he who gives, with liberality" (Romans 12:8).
"He who has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor" (Proverbs 22:9).
We are to be generous even to our enemies: "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you" (Proverbs 25:21,22).
God wants us to give ourselves to Him.
Even though they were poor, the churches of Macedonia gave liberally because they had first given themselves to God: "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God" (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
God wants us to give according to our ability.
Jesus told His followers, "give alms of such things as you have" (Luke 11:41).
God never asks us to give more than we can. "Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Him and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood' " (Mark 12:41-44).
We are not really giving if we just give what is left over. Our giving should be planned. We are to give as we have purposed in our heart.
The story is told of a little girl who was given two euro, one to buy candy and one to put in the collection plate. As she skipped along the street she dropped one of the coins and it rolled into the storm drain. As she peered through the grate she said: "Whoops! There went the Lord's euro!"
We are to share with others.
When the people asked John the Baptist, "What shall we do then?" he replied, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise" (Luke 3:10,11).
"Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
God will bless us if we are generous.
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:38). If we use a teaspoon to measure out our giving, God will use a teaspoon to measure out our blessings. If we use a dump-truck to give, God will use a dump-truck to bless us spiritually.
Paul explained to the Corinthians that God would provide for their needs if they were generous to others: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: 'He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness remains forever.' Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God" (2 Corinthians 9:6-11).
He explains that their liberal sharing brings glory to God: "For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men" (2 Corinthians 9:12,13). The churches of Galatia were told: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).
God wants us to work so we can give.
Paul had set an example in this for the Christians at Ephesus: "Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " (Acts 20:34,35).
In his letter to this same church, he wrote: "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28).
God wants us to lay up treasure in heaven.
Jesus said: "Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:33,34).
God wants us to give personally and through the church.
Our good deeds are to be done discreetly. Jesus said: "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly" (Matthew 6:3,4).
Christians are instructed to give on the first day of the week as they have been prospered. Paul told the Christians at Corinth: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come" (1 Corinthians 16:1,2).
Gifts can also be given at other times to meet special needs. We read about the church at Jerusalem: "Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need" (Acts 4:34,35).
How are we to give?
"Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
No compulsion is to be used in the church of Christ.
God wants us to give willingly through love. We give cheerfully because God has given us so much.
God wants us to give liberally, according to our ability, but first of all He wants us to give ourselves to Him.
God will bless us if we share what we have with others.
God wants us to work so we can give and lay up treasure in heaven. We give both personally and through the church.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive