Giving Can Be Fun?

My husband and I were members of a church a few years ago when they began their building program (Can I hear a collective groan? Truly there is nothing worse than a church with a building program. New facilities are nice, but it just seems to suck all the joy and life out or the people… and then what is the point?) We hung in there at the church for as long as we could, but each week they got progressively more and more abusive in their attitude towards giving to the building program. They brought in every hard line finance speaker you could think of, but instead of being motivated, the people just got burnt out. People started leaving the church in large numbers, and all the while the pastor just got more and more legalistic and desperate. It was a tragic situation, but one that is all too common in churches across the world. Basically I think the bottom line is nothing kills joy and freedom like compulsion.

I ended yesterday’s blog with the verses from 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, but I want to repeat verse 7 for you. It says,
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Interestingly, the word “necessity” in this verse can also be translated from the Greek as “compulsion.” If you have been giving out of compulsion, then I have good news for you… God does not expect or require that of you. In fact, as Paul says, you are to give as you purpose in your heart and at the leading of the Holy Spirit. Now this isn’t a popular position on giving (especially if you are in a building program 🙂 ), however, I really believe it’s God’s position. Like I said yesterday, God is after your heart, and giving out of compulsion or obligation does nothing for your heart.

As you all probably know, the Olympics are getting ready to begin next week. In each sport they have a list of requirements that the athlete’s are required to perform in order to qualify. In gymnastics these are actually called the compulsories. In other words, if they do not perform those mandatory elements then they will not score well, or will not qualify. And I think that this is exactly how many of us have viewed our giving. We feel guilty and scared of disqualification if we don’t give and so we give out of a sense of compulsion and not because it is really in our hearts. Or we don’t give and we live in fear because of it. The amazing thing is to watch those athletes when they are finished with the compulsories. Many times they will have like a “free style” at the end of the competition. They come alive. They have fun. All the pressure is off. Their passion for their sport totally comes out and it is so much fun to watch.

So what if (I know this might sound crazy to you) instead of giving what you feel is expected of you, you start giving what is in your heart to give? What a crazy thought. What if you felt the Holy Spirit prompting you to give all of the money you have set aside to give, to a neighbor who is in need? What an amazing concept. Now I totally believe that it is scriptural to give where you are being spiritually fed. Galatians 6:6 says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” It is absolutely in God’s heart that you give to those who are ministering to you, but my point is… it is not compulsory. If it’s not in your heart, ask God about it, but don’t do it. Wait for Him to lead you. There have been months where our giving money has sat in savings for a month or two because we just didn’t feel like we were supposed to give it right then and so we waited. And then all of a sudden the Lord would show us a need and we would know exactly why we had to wait. Sometimes it has been sowing into a missionary, or blessing the socks off of a friend in need, or sowing our giving back into where we are being fed. But friends, WE are the church. The church is bigger than a building, and giving is so much more than just an obligation. Matt and I have so much fun with our giving. We get to BE the church when we give, and I can’t even tell you how much joy that brings.

So let go of the compulsion and obligation that has bound your giving. As Paul says (paraphrased from verse 7) give what is in your heart to give, don’t do it because you have to, and have fun doing it, because God loves that! God really does love a cheerful giver, but the good news is you don’t have to make yourself be cheerful about giving. When you stop doing it as a “compulsory”, it turns out that giving actually is a lot of fun, and it’s easy to be cheerful when you are doing something fun.

So give what is in your heart to give and have fun with your giving. And if you don’t feel like you have anything to give at the end of your budget, then come back tomorrow. I have good news for you too!

See you tomorrow.