Week 4 Tithe Challenge
DO THE MATH – PASS THE TEST
Week 4 – Give Cheerfully
Cheerful vs Reluctant
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
2 Cor. 9:6–8
What would you do if you had a giant bag full of seeds? Would you eat them or plant them? If you eat the seed, its life and legacy just ended, but if you plant a seed it will not only produce a corresponding harvest but will also bring an abundance of seeds. My favorite seed is the pumpkin seed. If you had a small handful of pumpkin seeds and ate them they would be gone quickly, but if you planted them you would now have a handful of pumpkins which could produce many pumpkin pies, pumpkin breads and even seeds to either eat or replant. If you then replanted those seeds you would pretty much have a pumpkin patch full of pumpkins. With a full pumpkin patch you would also have so many extra seeds to eat and sow that your abundance would not only bless you but many others. This is a simple principle that we call sowing and reaping. In order to reap a harvest you need to sow seeds. As we look at our life and our faith we need to recognize that God gives us seeds all the time. When we receive them our instant mindset is to consume them, but God teaches us something far greater than that. He wants us to learn the lesson of cheerful giving or sowing the seeds He has given us. The gift or seed comes from God in the first place and what we do with it will either deplete what we have received or multiply its impact. We are able to gain an abundant harvest when we sow the seed, yet we are reluctant to part with it. Reluctance is the enemy of cheerful generosity and thus the enemy of provision. When we hold tightly to what we have, we end up undermining the system of generosity.
In Second Corinthians chapter nine Paul writes to the Church of Corinth about taking a special offering to help the Church of Jerusalem in their time of need. He praises them for their eagerness to give above and beyond to this special cause and then he reminds them to not only talk about giving but to actually plan ahead so that they will have reserved the funds and already collected them. He then warns them not to give reluctantly or feel pressured to give but instead that they should recognize the powerful way God has provided for them and the way God will use what He has given to them by not only bringing them additional blessings but also by supplying the needs and answering the prayers of those in Jerusalem.
I wonder what Paul would say about the way we give today? Would he brag about our generosity or would he rebuke us for our reluctance? The challenge this week is to see how you are doing in this area of your life by cheerfully giving something special to someone this week. If you know someone in real need choose them, but if not, that’s fine. Just choose someone and give them a good gift. Take the time to think of something or buy something special to CHEERFULLY give to them! Put some thought into how you could do something and have fun doing it. If you are reluctant to the challenge that is probably a pretty clear indicator of what type of message Paul would give you.
As a general rule, cheerful giving isn’t careless giving, it is calculated giving. Cheerful giving pays the bills and doesn’t overspend. Cheerful giving saves so that you have money at your disposal to bless someone in need. The bottom line is this- it is a lot of fun to give someone a gift they need and to be able to step back and say, “Wow, God provided for me and so now I am going to share with one of His children so that He will be glorified.” It is not only fun, but it gives God great glory. Let this week be the week you start to calculate your generosity and then let it turn into a principle of your life. Plan on giving cheerfully and then when the opportunity presents itself you will not be reluctant, but you will be ready and eager to do it!