July 14 I Thursday
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” —2 Corinthians 9:7
As Christians, our giving is a reflection of our relationship with God. We selflessly give as an overflowing expression of our thanksgiving to God; no matter how much we give, God will always be the Great Giver. When our hearts and desires are ready to give, a natural burning question is, how much should we give?
The New Testament gives us two principles on how to give. Firstly, we give according to our natural ability. When the church of Jerusalem was in need of help, Luke tells us, “The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea” (Acts 11:29). The disciples in Antioch sent money to help the church in Jerusalem but the key to their giving was—as each one was able—according to his ability. Secondly, we give beyond our natural ability. Paul says, “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Corinthians 8:3). We all have different incomes, different abilities and different demands made upon us, which therefore, allots us each with a different capacity to give.
In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes about giving as an essential part of Christian morality and responsibility. He says, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.” What Lewis means is that our giving it is not something we do as a convenience with our excess but as a first priority.
No one legislates what we should give. Paul says, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12). The key point of this verse is “willingness,” that we are willing to give what we can out of what we have.
Once in a while, I receive letters from people writing to Living Truth, and some of these letters are accompanied with a small donation and a message that says, “I wish I could give more but this is all I am able to.” God loves the spirit of those givers. The amount they are giving may be very small but they are giving out of what they have and God delights in their faithfulness. As we decide how much we should give, may we give with willingness and delight in our hearts.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for generously giving me all I have. I ask for willingness and delight in my heart to give cheerfully from what I have as a reflection of my relationship with You.