Voices of Faith: Decide how to give, and be a cheerful giver

Jesus says it is better to give than to receive. So how would you respond to these situations?

It’s 8:00 p.m. You’ve just finished supper. You’re resting your feet after a long day at work. Suddenly the phone rings. It’s Bob and he needs a ride to the grocery store. He says if you don’t take him, you’re making him starve. What do you do?

Your mother calls. She says she knows you are planning to take the family to the beach this weekend but she’s lonely and needs you to come visit. She says if you don’t come see her, you’ll ruin her weekend. What do you do?

It’s Bob again. He needs to borrow $50. Though he didn’t pay you back last time, this time he says he definitely will. He points out you make lots of money and if you don’t give him the loan, you’re just stingy. What do you do?

Have you already decided in each case? Then read on.

God’s Bible can offer us some real help in these and in all life situations. A relevant section of the book is in II Corinthians 9:6-7:

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The first part offers good general advice about life. We are to be generous. God gives us good gifts and we are to do the same to others. We should give our money, time and talents.

So why do we feel so bad sometimes when we give? Because we ignore the rest of what God says. Sometimes, in our efforts to be “good” people, we don’t think enough about how we give. We give reluctantly, feeling guilty, perhaps even giving when we think we shouldn’t. That steals our joy. Someone once defined stress as when our hearts say no and our mouths say yes.

Do you want to feel good when you give? Then decide to give without allowing yourself to feel forced to give.

In all three of these situations, someone is trying to apply pressure to get you to give. Bob is saying if you don’t give him what he wants, you’re a bad person and responsible for his life not going well. It’s the same message your mother is sending. But their happiness depends on their decisions, just as yours does on yours. You are not responsible for how they feel. Instead decide to do what you want to do to be the kind of person you choose to be. Then, if you say yes to any or all 3 of these situations, you can do so cheerfully because it will be your decision. And the same will be true if you decide to say no to any or all 3 of these situations.

If you’re going to give, decide to do so. Then you won’t be just a giver. You’ll be a cheerful giver.

Rick Cupp, is minister of the Kenai Fellowship. Sunday Bible classes for all ages at 10:00 a.m., Coffee at 10:45 a.m., Sunday Worship at 11:15 a.m.; Wednesday meal at 6:15 p.m., Worship at 7:00 p.m.

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