Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Genuine giving can be a very hard thing to do, especially when talking about money and finances. The Gospels make this abundantly clear with the story of the rich young ruler. I remember attending a church where the tithes were brought forward to the altar and being tempted to come carrying an empty envelope on several occasions.
Getting ready for my move to Grand Rapids, I had the opportunity to give away some things which were valuable but I no longer really needed. Upon arriving of course I realized I could have and should have given more.
John Armstrong in a blog a couple of weeks ago pointed out, “65% of individual giving comes from homes with less than $100,000 in annual income… That’s an important nuance. Importance nuance for sure!”
In fact for a long time I lived in Mississippi, a state which is rather well known for being poor. But Mississippians have consecutively ranked among the most generous givers on several occasions (figured by amount given as a share of income).
The apostle Paul in 2nd Corinthians is saying something important in that giving should be done with considerable design and reflection. A well informed and thoughtful giver can help develop a cheerful giver. Seeing your money and capital empowering people can be powerful, and seeing it mismanaged can be disheartening.
As Christians we know we are created and made in the Image of God. God is of course by nature love and compassion, and his revelation and grace is made evident by his Triune character. In trying to be like the image of God we should be cheerful and faithful in loving other humans. God certainly models perfect love and relationship and we are called to model the imago Dei. When Christ fed the multitudes and healed the sick he was not only meeting physical and spiritual needs but was filled with compassion.
Likewise we should be giving in like manner, cheerful and filled with compassion. I remember working in D.C. and experiencing anguish with some of the nastiness and loneliness on Capitol Hill. I was doubting a lot of things in general and, while walking through the famed Statuary Hall, I saw the statue of Father Damien of Molokai who literally gave his life for the lepers on the island of Molokai. My eyes welled with tears and I was once again reminded there are servants who greatly contrast other servants.
In the words of Isaiah, “And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”