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A Cheerful Giver
by Elaine Pierce
After you have read these verses, you may be thinking, oh boy, here comes the sermon on giving. I am going to feel uncomfortable hearing about money in church. Maybe I'll stay home today.....
What is it about money that makes us squirm? Is it because we think it's nobody's business how we spend it? Is it because we feel guilty because we aren't giving what we think we should? Yes, we know the phrase "God loves a cheerful giver," (2 Corinthians 9:7b) but, if we're honest, at times it's hard to be cheerful about giving money away. We earned it.....we want to keep it for ourselves.....that rainy day might be just around the corner....
Leviticus tells us that "a tithe of everything belongs to the Lord." That doesn't sound like a suggestion, does it? That sounds pretty definitive. And yet we're not to brag about our giving, or to think that once we've tithed, we're good - no need to continue to serve God and others.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus illustrates this point in Luke 18:9-14 when he compares the self-righteous tithing Pharisee to the penitent tax collector. God knows our heart, and he is not fooled by a tithe given to score points to make ourselves look good.
When I got married, many years ago, my husband introduced me to the concept of tithing. It was new for me, and at first, I thought he was crazy. Surely God didn't expect us poor newlyweds to give him a tenth of our small income. We had college to pay for! We wanted to buy a house! How could we do that with ten percent less? But through the years, God has honored that commitment. I won't say that it has been easy, but it has become a habit, and one I am grateful for. Am I always a cheerful giver? I am not. But oh, when I am, what blessings I receive.
Tithing is not meant to be punitive. It is not God's way to 'get us.' God gives us tithing as a good discipline. And for some, it is a starting point. Every year, our church, UALC allocates 20% of the budget to mission programs that benefit those who will never walk through our doors. Ask God how he wants you to allocate your financial resources. And perhaps you will experience what Jesus describes in Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. "
Lord, when I am faced with 'hard' scriptures, help me to come to you for guidance and direction. Help me to honor you with my giving, and thank you for the opportunity to deepen my faith in every part of my life, including my finances. Amen.