July 10 I Sunday
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.” —1 Chronicles 29:14
We must admit, we all enjoy receiving. Yet, have we thought about the person who is doing the giving? Paul points us to two kinds of givers: hesitant givers and hearty givers. The difference between the two is important for us to observe.
Paul elaborates on three characteristics of the hesitant giver. Firstly, they do so grudgingly: “Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.” Secondly, they give sparingly: “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.” And thirdly, they are reluctant: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 9:5-7).
Hearty givers, on the other hand, give from the heart. Paul also points out three characteristics of their giving. Firstly, they give generously: “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Secondly, they give willingly: “Each of you should give what you have decided.” Thirdly, they give cheerfully: “For God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
But what makes one hesitant and the other hearty? The answer: the heart. Paul tells us, “Give what you have decided in your heart to give” (2 Corinthians 9:7). When the heart is engaged, there is no reluctance and no sense of compulsion, only cheerful giving. Paul notes the desire behind the giving heart: “Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so” (2 Corinthians 8:10). When it does not come from the heart, it does not come from a desire within us but from an obligation we feel that is imposed upon us. Giving must be connected to the heart.
When Jesus told us, “Love the Lord your God” (Matthew 22:37), we may think it is a command, but it is actually a response, as John tells us, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We also give because He first gave to us. God’s nature is a Giver as John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave....”
We may think that giving is a practical issue, but it is actually a spiritual issue, because the cause and the motivation behind giving reflects the quality of our relationship with God. If our hearts are the recipients of His grace, if our hearts are moved by His kindness to us, if our hearts have responded to His love, then it follows that our hearts will be willing to give. May our hearts of giving be generous, willing and cheerful, as it reflects our relationship with God.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for loving me so deeply and giving to me so generously. Open my heart and desire to give to others as a reflection of who You are in my life. Amen!