by Charles R. Swindoll
Thoughts disentangle themselves . . . over the lips and through the fingertips. I learned that saying over thirty years ago, and just about every time I put it to the test, it works! Whenever I have difficulty comprehending the complicated or clarifying the complex, I talk it out or write it out.
Take the importance of giving joyfully to God, for example. Second Corinthians 9:7 says: "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." The original meaning of the word translated here as "cheerful" is "hilarious," and this is the only time it's found in the New Testament. lt's the hilarious giver God prizes.
Now, how does this translate into daily life? How do these thoughts disentangle themselves to become meaningful parts of our lives? I'd like to make the following four suggestions for ways we can bring joy into our giving.
Reflect on God's gifts to you. Hasn't He been good? He certainly has to me. Better than I deserve! In light of God's magnificent grace, a cheerful heart and openhanded generosity seem the most natural responses.
Remind yourself of His promises regarding generosity. Call to mind a few biblical principles that promise a bountiful harvest to those who sow bountifully. Jesus Himself spoke of how much more blessed it is to give than to receive. Bumper crops are God's specialties, so we have nothing to restrain us from dropping maximum seed.
Examine your heart. Nobody knows the combination to your private vault. Only you can probe its contents by asking the hard questions: Do I really believe God's promises on giving generously? Am I responding as I do because I care or because I feel guilty? Is my giving proportionate to my income? Have I prayed, or is my giving impulsive? Am I a consistent giver or more hot 'n' cold?
Glorify God by becoming generous. He prizes generosity, especially joyful generosity. Perhaps we need to break the habit of being so conservative, so careful. Maybe we even need to "scare" ourselves with acts of generosity . . . going out on a limb, as it were, and genuinely trusting God to honor our financial faith.
Well, that's it. Just a little lips-and-fingertips clarification. All of us would be wise to address our reluctance to sacrifice financially for the cause of Christ. After all, our goal is joyful generosity, isn't it?
Do you qualify as a "hilarious giver"? If not, why not?
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.