When speaking of giving guidelines, we mentioned that giving to God reminds us who He is, who we are and what our relationship should be to that which He allows us to manage in His name. And this responsibility of managing what belongs to God, stewardship, is an important task.
However, good stewardship doesn’t require us to deny the real needs of our families or give until there’s nothing left to give; and it certainly doesn’t mean that we’re to give until it hurts.
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NASB).
That phrase, “God loves a cheerful giver,” is significant, because of the word cheerful. No doubt you have heard a sermon where the preacher pointed out that the Greek word for cheerful is the root word from which we get our English word hilarious. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone should start laughing when an offering plate is passed around, but it wouldn't be a bad idea at that.
In 1994 I had the privilege of attending the National Prayer Breakfast, in Washington, D.C. Mother Teresa was the speaker. One of her statements with which I full agreed was:
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Those were bold words from a fearless little snippet of a woman who gave her life to tend to the needs and lives of others. But she also said something with which I couldn’t agree. She said: “This is the meaning of true love – to give until it hurts.”
Of course, I suppose we’ve all heard that statement, “Give until it hurts.” Obviously, giving until it hurts must be easy for some folks to do, because they display such a painful expression when asked to give even the minimum, whether of finances or service.
However, the Bible presents us with a very simple and heartening illustration – we simply can’t out-give God. So, don’t worry, you’re not going to go broke by being generous.
And it really doesn’t hurt. In fact, here’s an encouraging promise:
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38 NASB).
That profoundity simply means that a generous person who gives freely to God in order to benefit others is going to prosper. If you help others with the right motivation, you’re going to be helped. When you refresh others, you will be refreshed.
Get it? You reap what you sow.
Don’t give simply for some tax advantage. Don’t give expecting the recipients to be grateful. Most will be extremely thankful, but some may not only be ungrateful, they might even resent those who give.
So, don’t give until it hurts. And, don’t give in order to be admired for your generosity. Give because giving reflects the loving and generous God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the opportunity to be blessed and to bless others by giving.
Remember, giving to God reminds us who He is, who we are and what our relationship should be to Him and those things that He allows us to manage in His name.
While there may be those who encourage us to give until it hurts, it seems that God really has a much better plan. God wants us to give because it’s the right thing to do. I think that it looks as though we should feel good, even joyful, about giving – if that’s what God wants us to do.
Please, please, don’t give until it hurts. Instead, give until you feel so good about giving that you might fall down laughing (all right, maybe not that happy). But, you get the idea, so let’s remember that “God loves a cheerful giver.”