Why do we give?
Why do we give to God and others? For our enjoyment? Out of guilt or obligation? Some of us have been encouraged to “give till it hurts.” This is the no-pain-no-gain philosophy, and this strategy can work, especially when we learn to give as a sacrificial discipline for others, even as Jesus has sacrificed his life for us. It entails sacrifice, hard work, and embracing the cost of generosity.
But giving so that it hurts cannot be our only approach, or even our main one, because the Bible teaches a different strategy for giving.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT)
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
Giving away what we have can create many different emotions: fear, anxiety, hopefulness, and even gratitude. Paul says here that God loves it when our giving “posture” is a cheerful one. God wants us to experience authentic joy when we release our resources for God’s purposes. So how do we do that? How do we move past the less mature motivation of guilt and obligation into a genuine desire to give that produces joy for us and blessing for others?
The answer is simple: practice. Growing in any worthwhile endeavor takes practice. We get better at most things (sewing/ crafting, sports, prayer, hobbies: juggling, woodworking, forgiveness, et cetera) when we practice.
There is a myth about this that simply won’t go away: “We will start to give joyfully, once we become generous.” That is inherently false. This the truth: We become generous through a lifetime of cheerful giving. Just as the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, the best way to experience the fullness of God’s abundance is one act of giving at a time; one habit of generosity at a time.
Start small. Commit each act of love to God’s glory. Stretch yourself, and trust in the Lord. When we do that – over time, we find that something incredible happens. Sowing generously means we begin reaping generously and we will abound in every good work for the Lord.
Loving God, who has been more generous with us than we could ask or even imagine, we thank you for your abundant blessing, knowing that not only do we have everything we need, but also enough to bless others through every good work you have given us to do. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.