But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
~1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV)
The Bible is filled with examples of God’s unfailing love for us. It is evident throughout Scripture and culminates in the gift of His Son and His sacrifice on the cross for our sin. But when you search the scripture for examples of what God loves, you find that there are very few. He loves righteousness and justice (Psalm 33:5). He loves the sanctuary (Malachi 2:11). But there is only one verse in the New Testament that clearly tells us what God really loves.
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 (NIV)
Jesus cared about our giving. He made a point to sit near the collection box at the temple and watch what people gave. He then used the opportunity to teach his disciples. He showed them how many people gave large sums, but it was just a little from their abundance. However the widow was generous, giving everything she had. (Mark 12:41-44)
It’s a nice little story that we often read in passing. We may think “How wonderful that God saw and honored the great sacrifice of that widow.” It might even prompt us to give a little more, but we can’t even imagine giving everything. That seems impossible~irresponsible even. How much does God really want us to give? How much is enough?
When we ask how much is enough, maybe we have missed God’s point. Everything already belongs to God. He doesn’t care about what we give or how much we give. It’s not the gift that he loves. He loves the cheerful giver.
When we are cheerfully generous with our time, talent, and fortune, we display God’s character. The secret to becoming generous is godliness combined with contentment. While contentment gives us satisfaction with the gifts God has already provided, godliness allows us to fully trust God to provide everything we need in the future.
I am reminded of the story of Elijah and the widow in the Old Testament. God sent Elijah to the widow’s house to ask her to feed him. The widow had just enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for herself and her son and then she knew they would die because of the famine in the land. Elijah asked her to fix bread for him first and then use what was left to prepare a meal for herself and her son.
For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’
~1 Kings 17:14 (NIV)
The widow obeyed and there was always enough flour and olive oil left in her containers, just as God promised.
That’s the kind of trust God wants us to have in Him! He wants us to trust Him to provide everything we need and understand that his provision for us is always perfect. When we finally believe this~really take it into our hearts~we’ve taken the first step to becoming a cheerful giver.
Breathe in His love…exhale all your struggles…
How is your trust in God? Do you really believe that his provision for you is perfect? Ask God today what he wants you to give. Step out in faith and obedience and you will discover just how perfect God’s provision really is.
Heavenly Father, we want to be generous the way you are generous. But truthfully, we’re sometimes frightened~frightened of releasing control to you. After all, we feel we have been responsible for ourselves for many years. What if you really don’t understand our needs? What if you ask too much from us? What if it’s a trick and it’s not really Your voice we hear telling us how much to give? What if we give too much and then we don’t have enough to provide for our family? If we make a mistake will You still provide for us? We know all of these questions come from a lack of faith in You and in Your perfect provision. Part of us believes, but another part of us wants to hold back just in case we’re wrong. We feel like that boy’s father in the gospel who tells You, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Help us become more like You every day. Help us truly become cheerful givers. In Jesus’ name we pray…Amen!
Share below one step you want to take today to become a cheerful giver. Commit to pray today for one other person who comments as well.