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 9:7(NASB)
Legalistic rules about giving, together with the unbiblical 'word of faith' movement and its prosperity teaching has given Christians an unbiblical focus, dishonoured the glorious gospel of grace, and brought Christianity into disrepute. Legalism and prosperity teachings has placed many into bondage under unbiblical, man-made rules. It has twisted the truth of Scripture and dishonoured the lovely name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul spends a considerable chunk of his second letter to the Corinthians discussing the principles and promises that are connected with true, biblical giving, and he identifies cheerful giving as an obedient, generous heart and a beautiful Christian grace that bring blessings to others, benefit to ourselves, and glory to our Father in heaven.
Paul outlines in his epistle the motives that should be behind all Christian giving. Each one must give according to what he himself has decided and in accordance with his means, and not in compliance with legalistic rules, selfish motives, or in response to a false preacher's greedy distortion of biblical giving: "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." But Paul also points out that we are to be wise in our giving, to give according to our personal means, and not to feel embarrassed or obligated to give more that we have purposed in our heart simply because our gift is smaller in quantity or appears inconsequential by comparison with that of another.
And as in so many of his writings, the apostle Paul uses agricultural practices to reinforce a spiritual truth. Bountiful sowing will produce an abundant harvest while scattering the seeds sparsely will produce a meagre crop. Generous giving should not be motivated by a selfish heart, which places God under the unbiblical 'obligation' to reward us for our hypocritical 'generosity', but should be prompted out of love for the Lord. Biblical giving should be an acknowledgement that God is able to cause every gracious gift we offer, to super-abound unto us so that in every way, always having everything we need, we may excel in every good work which God has prepared for us to do, to His praise and glory.
Cheerful giving that proceeds from a heart that loves to do the will of the Lord in spirit and in truth is applauded while a gift that is given grudgingly, comes from a heart that has misunderstood the true purpose of giving and which sadly misses the blessings that stream into the life of a faithful and true disciple of the Lord. Let us give of our time as well as our money. Let us offer our love to the Lord as well as our finances.
Perhaps we should all examine the hidden motives of our heart as we give of our time, our money, our skill, and our talents, to see if our hearts are filled with joy and grateful thanks for all that Christ has done for us - or if we are still using our Christian giving in response to legalist bondage, selfish motives, or for any other unbiblical purpose.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given me all things richly to enjoy and that everything I have comes from You. May I never be under the illusion that I can outgive Your over-abounding gift of grace, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. May I give faithfully, cheerfully, and generously of my time, my talents, and my money. May the motive behind my giving be pure and ever open to Your scrutiny. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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