Did you know underneath each English word in your New Testament lies a Greek word? That’s because the writers of the New Testament wrote in Greek. If you were to peel back “cheerful,” for instance, in 2nd Cor. 9:7, it reads, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a hilarós (cheerful) giver.”
So why’s that important to point out? For one, we’re the wealthiest country on earth. Second, we’re the richest nation in world history. Both of which are fine. But third, we give begrudgingly, not hilariously, way more than we realize. That means boatloads of joy are going untapped. I’m inviting you to be ambitious in two concrete ways: give until it feels good, and give like Jack!
GIVE UNTIL IT FEELS GOOD!
You’ve heard it said, “give until it hurts?” Well, that totally misses the point. Don’t give until it hurts…give until it feels good!
Proverbs 11:25 teaches, “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” That means givers rejoice as much as recipients much of the time. How did it make you feel the last time you gave a gift to someone, like your kid?
I’m convinced the greatest Christmas gift on record was a pump-action pellet gun I got when I was 12. I ran around the yard like a crazed teenager for hours after unwrapping it. I cannot imagine my parents being underwhelmed by my reaction.
Or what about this story I read from a devotional:
I knew that my father was extremely fond of black walnuts when I was young. We didn’t often get them. So, the day I found one on the ground, I was delighted! My first thought was to have my mother crack it so I could eat it myself, but then my love for my father took over. I saved it for him. When he came home that evening, I gave him the walnut and said, “Here, Daddy, I’ve been saving it all day just for you!” I thought it strange that he didn’t want to crack it and eat it right away. It was not until 30 years after he died that I found it again. It was tucked away in a special place on his desk. Mother told me he considered it a sincere token of my deep affection for him and that he kept it as a memento.
It’s hard to say who benefited most. Was it the young boy at the time? Or the father over the next 30 years? Or the son later in life when he came across that same black walnut? It could be all of the above.
The Apostle Paul made a similar point about a gift given to him by the Philippian Christians. Their generosity “amply supplied” his every need; they had given him “more than enough.” Paul acknowledged that his benefit was tremendous, but the richest reward was “the profit which increases to your account.” It’s vital to underscore such profits may go unrealized until the last resurrection (Lk. 14:14), but rest assured they will be realized.
GIVE LIKE JACK!
A buddy recently got bitten by the giving bug and wanted to model sharing with others in front of his 5-year-old son Jack. After finishing their meal at Waffle House, the dad gave Jack a card to hand to the waitress. The card read, “Something extra to show God loves you, and so do we,” along with a $100 tip. Like offerings used to construct the temple, the people “rejoiced because they had given willingly, with a whole heart, they had offered freely to the Lord. King David also rejoiced greatly,” Jack, his dad, and Sally had the privilege of celebrating together over a simple deed of kindness.
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