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 (2 Corinthians 9 verse 7).
For most of my life, I have tried to understand and match up to the scripture when it says we ought to be “cheerful givers”.
Did it mean we should muster up a bright smile when putting our offerings and tithes to God with hopes and thoughts in the back of minds that: “God, You better repay me”?
Did it mean we ought to tell our friends how ‘excited we feel’ about giving a financial gift…or any gift for that matter to someone even though, deep down, we are still counting the cost and counting the loss of what we have given?
Did it even mean we ought to attain a sense of pride and joy after making social media posts about what…how much…or to whom we have given? What really does “cheerful giving” mean to you?
If I were to define it, I would say it is the
…uncontained thrill and genuine joy one gets from the very thought and act of giving to someone else while having no expectations of recompense from them. It is honouring another with kind tokens simply on the premise benefiting such a one and not merely to be seen or rewarded for it.
Giving too much?
I am a faithful giver to God but I don’t quite think the concept of cheerful giving was fully grasped until today!
You see, I recently moved literally right next to my male best friend, his wife and my god-daughter Niara. Ever since I started living there, they have really been showering me with gifts of all kinds. I tell you, this giving became so overwhelming for me! Almost every day they either had a hand of banana, some mangos, beetroot juice, nicely cooked dinner or even just a slice of potato pudding to share with me.
Why though? Why they were giving so much to me, I really couldn’t understand. I was not used to this outpouring of gifts of love at all and I honestly started to shy away from receiving from them at times. It was too much. “How will I ever ‘match up’ to them in giving back even close to the abundance they have given to me?” I thought.
Though seemingly far-fetched, I became adamant to look for opportunities…everyday…to become an active part of this culture of giving that they were teaching me firsthand. Sadly, the more I tried to give something, the MORE they gave to me and I was so amazed and puzzled at why it was like this.
Months later, I settled on the thought that, “You know, maybe, maybe I should just give it a rest. I simply can’t out-give them at all. I’ll just give the best of what I can as often as I can but I will no longer try to align or outdo the extent of their giving to me. I just won’t win”.
The giving that excites
Finally, a day came when a customer from work blessed me with a large box of ground provisions of all sorts….all my favourites too! Plantains, mint tea bush, yellow yams, mangos, pears…. A host of things.
I recall that there was an instantaneous wind of delight that whistled into my heart. This bout of excitement was minutely rooted in being richly blessed by the customer but was significantly premised on my opportunity to now give to my neighbours again.
The thought of blessing them from my blessing was highly exhilarating for me. My mind-set was fixed on being blessed to be a blessing. I tell you, there were fireworks, helium balloons and dances going on in my heart in that moment. Don’t ask me why but I was just….excited about giving.
As I thought about it for the rest of the day, I questioned if this is how God really wants us to feel when we are giving to Him and to others. I mean, God has given to us insurmountably and just like my neighbours, there is nothing we can do to impress or out-give Him.
He only desires that whenever we give, we do so heartily from the portion of whatever we have received from Him. Similarly, when we give to others, our motives should simply be to bless them from the little or the much that we have been blessed with instead of trying to look good, outdo or receive a return from them.
The giving that gives
Giving excitedly maximises every opportunity of being blessed, to be a blessing to someone else. Giving with remorse, pride or obligation are distasteful to God and certainly unkind to humans. Instead, God wants for us to be excited about every opportunity we get to give to Him and to others just because giving is good.
Ultimately, I gave my neighbours a portion of what I had received and in like manner, when we give to God, when we give to others, we are gifting them with only a portion of what we too have received. That’s reasonable!
My neighbours were not giving to me just so that I could give back to them, but the thought of being blessed with a willing gift from me nevertheless, was heart-warming for them. Truly, the sentiments are the same for God and for others.
I may not know what your style, stance, state or story about giving is but I pray that at heart, you will, or continue to, experience a genuine delight when you even think of giving to God and to others.
A regretful, complaining, counting, expectant, uncomfortable, legalistic giver was never a cheerful giver to begin with. Let’s do some assessment: Where on the spectrum do you really fall?
Melicha J. Smith originates and resides in Jamaica, West Indies. She has been involved in youth ministries for over 13 years and has served in the capacities of teacher, mentor, intercessor and missionary. Professionally she functions as a Registered Pharmacist.
Melicha enjoys and invests most of her time in writing, reading and listening to music. She loves a good game of football even though she understands VERY LITTLE about the game.
Melicha Smith is an author, speaker and founder of Reflective Hands Ministry.
Follow her on Instagram: @reflectivehandsja