Hilarious Giving

by

Debra Shirley

     Have you ever watched a small child give an offering? Recently during our morning worship service, I had the privilege of witnessing a bright-eyed, dark-haired angel place her gift in the offering plate.  Her small heart overflowed with so much joy that her whole face lit up. She eagerly anticipated every movement of the ushers as they made their way down the aisle.  She leaned from side to side to make sure they did not get by her. Finally, as they neared her row, she leapt to her feet and joyfully made her offering to God.  Don’t you know that God was delighted at the spirit of giving by that little girl? 

In 2 Corinthians 9:7 Paul tells us, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (NIV).  In this passage, the word "cheerful" comes from the Greek word hilaros. Does that word sound familiar?  Of course, it means hilarious.  When was the last time that writing your offering check brought so much joy that you actually broke into laughter?

Watching that little girl compelled me to ask, “Is God satisfied with my heart of giving?”

It seems the older we get, the less emotional we adults become. If we are not careful, we can view our offering as more of an obligation than an opportunity to worship.  In his poem, The Vision of Sir Launfal,  James Russell Lowell wrote, “He gives nothing but worthless gold who gives from a sense of duty.”  Take a moment and examine yourself.  Is your offering presented with a reluctant heart?  Are you obligated to give by guilt or a sense of duty? Have you lost the joy?

If you answered yes to any of the above, your next question may be, “How do I rekindle the delight of giving and once again present my offering with a "cheerful" heart?”

1. Focus on why you give. 

You give because He gave.  Even though His sacrifice on the cross was enough, God continues to shower us with abundant blessings.  All He asks in return is a tithe.  In Malachi 3:10, He promises that if we do bring Him our tithes and offerings, He will pour out so much blessing that we will not have enough room for it. In fact, in that same verse He tells us to “test Him” in this. Do you realize that this is a one-of-a-kind scripture? Nowhere else in the Bible will you find God issuing a similar challenge. Consistently throughout the Bible we are told to NOT test the Lord our God.  So, why does He tell us to test Him in our giving?  Could it be that He is so yearning for the opportunity to bless us that He allows us this forbidden privilege? 

2. Remember that giving is faith in action. 

One reason you give is to provide the means for your church to do whatever it takes to bring souls to Christ.  You might call this faith in action.  In other words, you trust that your tithes will be used wisely and you watch to see God act.  I have personally witnessed this principle in action.  In 1998, my church began a stewardship program to build larger facilities at a new location in our neighborhood.  The challenge was for our members to give sacrificially – above and beyond their tithe.  In February 2002, we relocated to the new building.  Since that time, we have seen tremendous growth and baptized many adults and children.  We recently completed a Family Life Center which will enable us to reach out to our community in new and exciting ways.  We expect God to do Immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine in the coming years.  Is there any greater joy than seeing someone come to Jesus as Lord and Savior? If we view our offering as a means for bringing others to Christ, giving with a cheerful heart will come naturally.

3. See your gift as the future of your church. 

We also need to remember that our gifts are used to provide for future generations. Our giving today assures the church will be there throughout the lives of the small children that run through our hallways and fill our nurseries. It enables us to minister to all the children in our communities through Vacation Bible School, Parent’s Night Out, Backyard Bible Clubs, and so on. 

4.    Our offering can be used for world-wide witnessing.

As commanded by Jesus in Matthew, we are to be witnesses unto all the earth. My church is fortunate to be part of the Cooperative Program. This Southern Baptist program provides needed funds for our missionaries to serve both in the United States and on foreign soil. Currently, we support over 5,100 missionaries through our offerings. If you reflect on where your offering goes and how many people around the world are reached because of your tithes, you will be thrilled at the prospect of giving. 

5.    Pray.

Finally, pray.  Ask God to give you a “cheerful” heart and renew the joy of giving. 

Each Sunday, I look for that little girl.  I eagerly watch as she places money in the offering plate. I challenge you to do the same.  Observe a child as they give.  Make the decision today that you too will give your offering with a "hilarious" heart.

Contact Information

Please feel free to contact me via email or mail

Deb Shirley

12467 McMath Trail

McCalla, AL  35111

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