Christians, do you feel cheerful when you give to the Lord? The word for cheerful used here in Greek is “hilaros”, describing someone who is cheerfully and spontaneously ready to act, already approving or persuaded. Hilaros is also where we get the word hilarious. An interesting way to think of giving.
Have you ever felt reluctantly cheerful or compelled to be cheerful? Someone can certainly decide to give reluctantly or decide to give by compulsion, but neither produces the kind of giving that God loves and it certainly doesn’t produce a cheerful giver.
It can be easy to be a reluctant giver when we focus on bills we have, commitments we have made, things we desire for ourselves or what will we need later in life. This type of giving is really more about keeping than giving. In some cases, the reluctance is so great there is no giving. As result of this inward focus, we take our focus off what God has given us.
It can also be easy to be compelled to give. Now that may sound funny, but you may be compelled to give because an offering plate is passed. You may also give under compulsion because someone you know asks you to give to a ministry, and you focus on impressing them rather than the need that is presented to you. This type of giving implies that there is an outward force applying pressure to give. You may not be ready to act or are not persuaded to give for the right reasons or purpose.
There may be times where we have a combination of reluctance and compulsion to give like Ananias and Saphira in Acts chapter 5. When they saw Barnabas sell his field and lay it at the feet of the Apostles at the end of Acts chapter 4, they may have felt compelled to give like Barnabas because they could see the joy it brought him and the church and they were jealous. But they were also reluctant to give it all, so they thought they could keep some for themselves and pretend to give it all. That did not end well for Ananias or Saphira.
Giving is always a heart matter and God knows your heart. When our love for God is at the center of our giving we can cheerfully give to the needs he lays on our hearts. We need to be reminded every day of Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
God did not give reluctantly or by compulsion, but freely gave his own son and will graciously give us all things. This assurance helps us loosen our grip on worldly, temporary things that God has given us and focus on the greatest gift of his own son. Then we can focus on using worldly temporary things for eternal kingdom purposes, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but cheerfully let go.