God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. (2 Corinthians 9:7 MSG)
It is very clear, in all the biblical teachings on giving, that God doesn’t want gifts that are begrudgingly given. He doesn’t want pain in my heart as I give. He wants joy. In fact, if that which is brought is brought reluctantly, God would rather not see it. After all, He already owns all things anyway, so God is actually more concerned with what the gift does to us than anything it will address in the real world. It’s not like we have to give God a helping hand poor God out here. He doesn’t need it; we need it. We need to give. God is seeking our joy. He knows all about the joy of giving; He wants us to know it, too. Give, or shrivel up in selfishness.
To be sure there were needs to be met with the funds that were given when Paul wrote this. The early churches were mostly poor with lots of persecution going on. There were plenty of needs everywhere, but God was certainly capable of meeting those needs. He was seeking, more importantly, the benefit to the giver, as Paul goes on to write:
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
See what’s happening here? There’s joy all around, and an increase in generosity.
It’s the biblical principle of giving. When you give, more will be given to you. I am not talking about prosperity doctrine – that doctrine of great material wealth to the giver as a motivation to give. That is the wrong emphasis, yet it grows out of an overwhelming amount of evidence, in both the Old and New Testaments, of the blessings of giving. It’s just that we are not to seek the blessing, but the giving itself, the joy of giving, and an overwhelming appreciation for the amazing grace of the Giver who makes it all possible. God brings increase with joyful giving so we can give more.
“God loves a cheerful giver” (9:7). The word “cheerful” is the Greek word from which we get our word “hilarious.” Thus, God loves a hilarious giver, and the reason for that hilarity is manifold, but my favorite is the hilarity of God’s grace to me. When I take a good long look at the fallibility, frailty and downright foolishness of my human nature, and then I grasp the fact that God loves me and has bestowed His grace upon me in abundance to where He sees no flaws in me, the true reaction to this is comic. It is astonishing. It is improbable and impossible. It is nothing short of hilarious. As Robert Capon calls it, “the grandest joke ever told.”
And when you realize you are the recipient of this bold, audacious grace, and you are filled up with God’s undeserved favor and love, you can only laugh hilariously at your incredible good fortune, and give it out to everyone around you.
I remember the day I realized God wanted me to live – no, I wasn’t recovering from some life-threatening illness, I simply realized that God wanted me alive on the earth so He could know and love me – I had an uncontrollable urge to walk up to everyone I saw, hug them, and tell them that God wanted them alive, too! That’s just what the Spirit of God does in us — He fills us up and spills over into everyone around us. When we submit to the Holy Spirit, we become completely and utterly vulnerable, and there’s no telling what might happen then. We might just become a hilarious giver!
A WORD ABOUT OUR CAMPAIGN
The theme of our campaign is: “On This Side of Eternity — We’re All In This Together.” The first part reminds us that however difficult things get on this side of eternity, there is indeed another side, and that side is eternity itself where we will dwell together with our Lord and with each other. But this side is just as real, and Jesus is with us as much here as He will be there. The second part reminds us of our unity in Christ, our bond together as believers, and our responsibility to one another in the body. And as we have been reminded today, that responsibility is not a burden; it’s a joy, because God gives us spiritual gifts to share with each other, and financial resources with which to support the body. So be a hilarious giver as you share your gifts to those within today.
Here’s what you’ll be supporting: The Ministry currently addresses over 2,274 individuals daily from the expanding Internet cyber church community, with six generations sitting side-by-side at Sunday’s Church at the Catch with attendees numbering 600 watching and several participating in the service. There are weekly bible studies, social media, podcasts with an array of prominent guests, membership interaction, a 24/7 interactive prayer ministry, a discipleship ministry providing “boots on the ground” to over 143 countries the Ministry presently serves, one-on-one counseling to well over 200 people a month, and a personal ‘triage’ that connects members to its network of local ministries are examples of its expanded territory.
Some of you have asked for stories from people who have been touched by this ministry. Look for more of that over the next few days. Meanwhile, we urge you to join those below who have already given and give with joy!