Monday, January 09, 2023

Anonymous Asks (231)

“How can I become a more cheerful giver?”

Paul wrote that God loves cheerful givers. A quick look at the context shows he is using “cheerful” to mean the opposite of “reluctant” or “under coercion”. Giving, then, should be enthusiastic and voluntary, rather than induced by external or internal pressures like guilt or duty.

Have you managed that every time you’ve given to the Lord? Me neither. And yet it’s obviously the most desirable state to be in, and something worth working on.

A Few Practical Suggestions

Get to know the need. It’s not hard to share what you have with people you love, but it’s very hard to love people without getting to know them first. When you know that pleasant waitress is fighting cancer, living in a one bedroom apartment and can’t afford her cat, it’s a pleasure to leave a larger tip.

Pay off your debts. It’s tough to stay enthusiastic about giving when you have a strong sense of obligation to something else. No one can serve two masters.

Give thanks for what you have. Make it a regular practice to count your blessings. It works for me. You will find you have more than you think. When you are always conscious of how much God has given you, it becomes much less difficult to part with some of it.

Cultivate biblical lifestyle expectations. If we look to the world for our examples of how to live, we will always feel shortchanged. Godly men and women learn to be content with very little. Those who are not constantly fretting about their own needs can give more easily.

Give to causes that motivate you. If you love children, give to a Christian orphanage. If you love the gospel, give to missionaries who are out there preaching it. View yourself as a partner or enabler of those who are doing the work of Christ, rather than someone sitting in the stands watching the game.

Don’t give to causes you can’t get behind. Don’t let a sales pitch guilt you into giving. I can’t give cheerfully to World Vision or UNICEF because I know a significant percentage of what they collect is wasted on buildings, administration and advertising. I can’t give cheerfully to a church building project that is financed by borrowing because I can’t tell if the Lord is really behind it or if his name is just being tacked on to the personal wish lists of his people. So I give to people who have a track record of faithful stewardship. You’ll feel better about spending that money wisely than simply throwing it at some cause you haven’t investigated first.

Just Do It

If none of that works, just give anyway. There’s nothing that makes giving more joyful than doing lots and lots of it. The less you give, the harder it is to give properly or feel good about it. The more you make open-handedness a lifestyle, the easier it is to part with money and feel great about it. Moreover, you will notice the Lord giving it back to you in ways you didn’t expect, because he can trust you to distribute it wisely and well.

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