Christians Under Construction – Week 16

Christians Under Construction is a series of devotions designed for family use each week focused on Christian stewardship. It was originally developed for a congregation stewardship series and intended as a weekly resource. I thought I’d republish here for those interested in using them. Here is week sixteen:

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Billy and his little sister Mary were both tugging at the same toy. It was as much a matter of wills as it was possession. Billy had given it to Mary some time ago, but now he wanted it back. He had changed his mind.

“Give it to me” shouted Billy. “No” shot back Mary, “you gave it to me!” This went on for some time until the toy finally broke in two. Then the shouting got louder and tears started to flow. As mom entered the room, Billy had a hold of his sister’s hair, and Mary was exacting revenge with short, but firm, kicks to her brother’s shins.

“What happened here?” mother shouted as she separated her two warring offspring. After both went on for some time with their versions of the story, mom sat them both down for a chat. “Bill it looks like you were insincere. Do you know what that is?” Bill shook his head. “Well, somebody who is insincere doesn’t really want to do what they are doing, like you did when you wanted your gift back.”

“That’s him alright” Mary interjected. Mom snatched Billy’s hand away from Mary’s head as he was attempting to grab another wad of hair. “You didn’t handle things very well either Mary,” not allowing Mary to put the entire blame on her brother. “’God loves a cheerful giver ’ the Bible says”, said Marilyn. That means that you decide in your heart that you want to give something, you give it, and then you are happy about the gift. Gift giving and receiving should be a very happy thing. Not something to fight over.”

Is gift giving always a happy experience? This past Christmas did you truly enjoy the pressure of getting all the gifts purchased, wrapped, given and / or sent? Would you consider the experience one of great cheer? How “happy” are you when you give to God? That is the subject of our verse for today. He is asking us about our attitude as we fund the Builder’s Budget. Is it the highlight of your day when sitting down to fill your offering envelope? Do you look forward to it? God suggests that sometimes we feel under compulsion – that we “must” do it. Questions of attitude are always tough to answer. Only you – and God – know what is in your heart.

The gifts of Cain and Abel were equally pleasing to the eye, weren’t they? However they were not equal when examining the heart. Being a cheerful giver is more than pasting a smile on your face before licking your offering envelope. It is more than not expecting anything back in return. It is more than telling yourself that God did this for me, namely provide me eternal life through Jesus Christ, therefore I have to do this for him. Cheerful giving comes only through a closer walk with the recipient of your gift. As you spend more time in God’s word, you become even more convinced of God’s love for you. As you enjoy the blessings of the forgiveness of sins through the Lord’s Supper, you return to your pew even more convinced that God IS love, that God is a gracious God and deserves only the best of gifts, cheerfully given.

So the next time you are fighting with your attitude about giving, don’t try to convince yourself that “this is what a Christian does.” Sit down with God’s word, both by yourself and with others, and let him show you all over again what you truly have to be cheerful about.

Discussion Questions: Make a list for yourself with reasons you can be cheerful. Why do you think God “loves” a cheerful giver? What do you think God does with gifts that aren’t cheerfully given?

(Note to parents: You may want to review the facts of the story to reinforce the lesson.)

Family Reading: Genesis 4

Prayer: Father, forgive my cheerless gifts. I have much to be happy about. Use your word to remind me of those each day. Amen.