Giving with A Smile and A Joyful Heart

Daily Devotion | Day 291

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

God loves those whose heart is like His. That shouldn’t surprise us. Love attracts love. If you have followed this Devotional for a while, you probably have noticed a recurring theme, i.e. the likeness of character that should exist between us and our heavenly Father. Everything flows from this relationship. It is an indispensable framework for understanding our calling as Christians. The instructions in the Bible are given with the purpose of making us like our Father. God loves it when He sees His trait in us. And, we should be equally excited about the ability to demonstrate the character of our good Father.

Giving is one area where you have an opportunity to be like your Father in heaven.

Paul mobilized churches to support other churches that were in need, especially the church in Jerusalem. The church in Corinth was one of those churches that had committed to giving. In today’s opening passage, Paul is reminding them to make their offering ready. In doing so, Paul took the opportunity to briefly explain the spirit (and the blessings) behind Christian giving. Let’s look at two related points which Paul addressed in the passage.

Firstly, he says, “let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity.” God wants you to give. But He doesn’t want you to give grudgingly or out of pressure. If you feel ‘pressured,’ keep your money or donation. If your heart is not fully in the giving, again, keep your goods to yourself.

God cares about the attitude of your heart when you give. Whenever you’re asked to give or you’re giving, God looks at your heart. He knows if you’re grumbling or if you’re giving out of pressure. He wants you to give because you want to give. He wants you to freely determine in your heart how generously you want to give.

If you give grudgingly, especially in the Church, it’s offensive to Christ.

Therefore, when you give, it’s important that your heart is completely in your gift. Giving is a basic Christian virtue. If you know the God you’re serving and you understand why you’re a Christian, no one needs to convince you about the importance of giving generously from your heart. If you need convincing, your heart isn’t for Christ yet.

Secondly, Paul writes, “God loves a cheerful giver.” This point flows naturally from the previous point. Notice Paul’s choice of words. He didn’t say, “God loves a giver.” He said, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Merely giving doesn’t do you any good. In fact, there are instances where giving can even get you in trouble. Recall the story of Cain (Genesis 4:3-7) or Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). In both stories, the people involved all gave. Yet, God rejected their giving. Don’t be like them.

If you give, don’t grumble. If you grumble, don’t give.

God is thrilled when you give cheerfully. A cheerful giver gives with a smiling face and a joyful heart. God doesn’t want you to give and be worrying about how your giving is impacting your taxes or your bills. If you’re unable or are not ready to give, that’s fine. But when you choose to give, it must be God’s way: cheerful giving.

Your Father in heaven is a cheerful giver. Imitate Him.

Blessing: May the Lord remember your generous giving and increase you beyond your expectations. In Jesus Name. Amen.

For further study: Deuteronomy 15:7-11; John 3:16, and Acts 2:41-47; 4:33-37; 5:1-11

Helping the Poor, Lending to God

Daily Devotion|Day 244

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17, KJV).

Compassion is the character of God. It is the character that He expects from all people, especially we who are the redeemed of the Lord. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Then in Luke 6:36, Jesus had this to say to His disciples, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

You will understand the Christian life better when you understand that your whole purpose in life is to be like your Father in heaven. This is your fundamental witness to the world. Once you get this, God’s commandments and instructions will make sense to you. Speaking to his children, the Father said, “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). What the Father is, the children must be also.

What we’ve said so far is in relation to today’s opening passage from Proverbs 19:17. God cares for all people, but He reserves special care for the vulnerable and marginalized. Such people are dear to God. In Scripture, you will notice that God has strong words for those who oppress or ignore the poor. Likewise, He has high praise and great reward for those who take care of the poor (see, for example, Proverbs 14:31; 1 Corinthians 11:22; James 2:5-6).

Today’s Scripture says that those who have pity upon the poor lend to God. Yes, if you show compassion to the poor, God takes is personal. He takes it that He ‘owes’ you for doing that. And the Bible adds that whatever you give to the poor, the Lord shall pay you back. When you show compassion to the poor, you are behaving like your Father in heaven. It makes Him proud to have a child like you. God is pleased when His children manifest His character.

Therefore, when you get an opportunity to reach out to the poor, rejoice, because great is your reward in the Father’s presence. Every chance you get to show the Father’s character is a golden opportunity. Seize it, and make the most of it. Your good deeds do not go unnoticed. God will be in your debt. And, blessed are you if God is in your debt.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you in abundance. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 41:1-3

Love the Person, Not the Gifts

Daily Devotion: Day 230

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17, NKJV).

 The above Scripture contains two important elements. These are, gift and GiverThe emphasis of the statement is on the Giver, not the gift. The of all good things is the Father of lights. The Bible further states that there is no variation or shadow of turning in the Father. This means He is ever dependable. Indeed, He is the Rock of our salvation. He delights in bestowing good gifts upon us. John tells us, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

That said, God does not want us to focus on His gifts to us. He wants us to focus on Him, the Giver. What do you want more, the source of the gifts or the gifts themselves? This sounds like a simple question, but many people tend to focus on what they can get from people. They seek you for your gifts, for what you can provide. Your value, to them, is based on what you bring to the table. If you are not ‘useful,’ you are not worth their time. They don’t seek you for your own sake, for who you are per se.

Such a relationship is mainly utilitarian in character. It is the relationship one has, for example, with Santa Claus. If Santa Claus didn’t dish out gifts, who would want him? People bring this utilitarian, consumerist mindset – consciously or unconsciously – into nearly all relationships. They bring it into marriages, into the workplace, into friendships, and even into churches and their relationship with God. So long as you have something which interests them, they’ll stay close to you. Lose what you have, and they lose interest in you. Christians need to change this climate.

And it starts with rethinking our relationship with the Father in heaven.

Yes, our Father is happy to bless us and provide for us. He created us without our asking. He sent His Son to die for our sins without our asking. And Paul says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). The Father gave us Jesus freely. There is nothing we can ask of Him which will be surpass the giving of His Son. Yet, what God wants above all things is a Father-child fellowship. He does not want us to seek gifts and in the process neglect the priority of eternal life.

It is possible to receive a lot of good gifts from the Father and still not make it to heaven. Why is that, you may say? Well, remember, God is so good that “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). He provides for all creation and all people, regardless of their belief (or lack therefore) in Him. This is proof that you can receive ‘good things’ from God without necessarily being a friend of God or being saved.

That is why it’s important to focus first on your relationship with the Father. You can receive gifts without receiving the Giver. But, if you receive the Giver, you have – in essence – received the gifts, because every good and perfect gift is in the Giver.

Seek the Father today. Get to know Him. Love Him with all your heart. He will give you perfect gifts beyond what you could ever ask or imagine.

Be blessed, you and your household! Amen.

For further study: Luke 12:22-34

Designated Provider

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: DAY 211

“For the poor shall never cease out of thy land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land” (Deuteronomy 15:11, KJV).

God is a provider, and he has designated you as a provider, too. How is that? Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (cf. James 1:17). He can do all things by Himself. He doesn’t need our help to function as God and Provider. However, being a God of fellowship, He calls us to work with Him so that He can work through us. It is in this sense that He has made us providers like Himself, so that we can be there for one another – in His name – when a need arises. 

Living as a Christian is about manifesting in our lives the good and holy character of our Father in heaven. One major way we do this, is by providing for the poor and needy. If you claim, therefore, to love God, but you neglect the poor and needy, your ‘Christianity’ is vain. The Apostle John put it best, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17, NKJV).

In Deuteronomy, chapter 15, the Lord instructed His people that after every seven years, they should manifest generous love for the poor and needy. Today’s opening Scripture is taken from this context. God says that there shall always be poor people among us. That’s interesting. Jesus said the same thing (cf. John 12:8). Immediately after stating that the poor shall never cease from the land, God says, “therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy brotherto thy poor, and to thy needyin thy land.” This is as clear as it can be.

Just as He commanded the Israelites, He commands us today to open our hand unto the poor and the needy in our land. For God, it is not enough to open your hand. He wants you to open it wide. Why is this important? It’s important, because God wants you to be like him – generous. Some people don’t have a problem opening their hand; they just have difficulty opening their hand wide. All poor people are needy, but not all needy people are necessarily poor. Anyone can experience need at any time. Either way, God’s instruction remains.

Where there are poor or needy people, God has designated other people to provide for them. Don’t think this message is exclusively for your rich neighbor. The message is for us all. At one point in the life of the prophet Elijah, he was in need, because there was famine in Israel. Listen to what God told Elijah, “Arise, get thee to Zarephath . . . behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (1 Kings 17:9). God commanded, not a rich woman, but a poor widow, to provide for Elijah. As you follow the story, you’ll discover that Elijah, too, had been sent into the widow’s life to be meet a need in her life. Everyone qualifies to be God’s designated provider.

From today, accept that you, too, are God’s designated provider, appointed to provide the answer to a need in someone’s life. Don’t neglect this sacred duty. It’s your opportunity to show that the good God indeed is your Father, and that you are like Him. Don’t talk about love. Show love.

May God richly bless you and use you to richly bless others. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: 1 Kings 17:1-24