Hasn’t God been good to you? He certainly has been to me. Better than I deserve! My list includes a loving Lord, good health, caring family, sufficient food, clothing, and shelter. A great church. I could go on. Yes, we’ve all had our share of heartache this side of heaven. But God has still blessed us with so much.
In light of his magnificent grace, a cheerful heart and openhanded generosity seem the most natural responses. Second Corinthians 9:7 says, “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.”
Everything we’ve received should evoke in us a desire to give with joy. Yet so often we do the opposite—we hoard and refuse to share.
A Habit of Hoarding
So many people hoard these days; in fact, there’s a TV series about people who hoard. It would be easy for those who watch it to say, rather smugly, “I’m glad I’m not like that.” But, have you checked your garage or attic lately?
When kids are small it’s not uncommon to witness this scene: One child has received a new toy and has played with it so long it’s lost its charm . . . so he tosses it aside. As soon as his little sister comes along and picks it up, the shrieking begins immediately, “Mine! Mine! That’s mine!” as the toy is snatched back.
Unfortunately, most rarely outgrow selfishness. Many years ago I conducted a funeral for a man I’d never met, who died without family or friends. All he had was a fox terrier to whom he left his entire estate—approximately $76,000. Even though many worthy causes could have benefited from that man’s estate, he chose to give it all to a canine that had no clue.
Few people understood human nature better than the apostle Paul. Knowing how selfish all of us can be, he offered a brief but bold contrast: “God loves a cheerful giver.” The Greek term he used for “cheerful” has the same root as our English word, “hilarious.”
I can think of a few examples of cheerful givers in the New Testament: a man named Onesiphorus who “often refreshed” Paul (2 Tim. 1:16–18); a church—the Philippians—who contributed generously to Paul’s needs (Phil. 4:14–16); and a widow held up as a model for giving all she had (Luke 21:1–4).
Our Lord prizes generosity, especially hilarious generosity. We need to break the habit of being so ultraconservative, so tightfisted. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if you occasionally “scared” yourself with acts of such extreme generosity that you experience what it means to go to the limit and “sow bountifully.” I dare you!
The author of Hebrews tells us, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (13:5). If all the other blessings were not enough, we have even the Lord himself. Christians have the best reason of all who occupy a place on this planet to loosen our grip—and to do so with over-the-top hilarity!
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.