The Apostle Peter drew his second letter to a close with these wise and pastoral words: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). The word “grow” is an exhortation and a command, and it implies that if we’re to progress in Christ we must play an active role, by the grace of Christ, in building habits that nurture that progress. Therefore, I am offering a series of devotionals this summer on eight essential habits that help us to grow in grace. For today, let’s consider the place of giving in the Christian life.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
The law of God is that we will reap what we sow, and this law extends to our finances. Sometimes, by his amazing grace, God violates this law, but generally speaking it is a law indeed. When it comes to giving our money, Christians should understand this truth, but we should also be compelled to give from the inside by the Holy Spirit, rather than from the outside by some person, group, or organization.
Giving that glorifies God must come from the heart because heartfelt giving is an expression of praise. God loves a cheerful giver because he loves a heart that overflows with love for him to such an extent that it’s willing to give of its time, talent, and treasure. For God, and hopefully for us, giving is about the heart, not the wallet.
Another reason God loves a cheerful giver is because a giving heart is a faith-filled heart. It’s a heart that trusts that God will provide. And God is able to make our provisions abound so that we can abound in every good work. God knows how to supply and multiply that we may live for the glory of his name and the good of others, and this is what giving is all about. “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way,” and this will produce thanksgiving, or praise, for God (2 Cor 9:11).
So the reason that giving money is part and parcel of growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ is because it is a way of imaging the God who is abounding and gracious, of praising his holy name, and of being a blessing to others. My exhortation to you today, then, is to prayerfully consider the way you use your money, and to make a firm decision to use all that is in your possession for the glory of your Father and the good of others. May God cause all of us to be cheerful, worshipful, bountiful givers.