God loves a cheerful giver

16 08 2007

I came across this image on a blog about happenings in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately, the blog entry was discussing a recent article in the Austin American-Statesman about a pastor in Round Rock who has been accused of embezzling funds from his church. What a horrible story for a lot of reasons, but that is not what intrigued me. It was the image.

Have you struggled with the issue this image is conveying? I have. With the pressures our society places on financial achievement and material possessions, it is too easy to be fleshly in our thoughts about our finances. I know that all that I have comes from God. But there are times that I feel the tug of the flesh to lose focus on whose money it really is.

So, this got me thinking of the distinction between knowing God’s word (which is, of course, important) and abiding in Christ. Just intellectually knowing the “Biblical” way to think or act has never been enough for me. When I begin to think that way, Satan is able to pounce on my thoughts and bend my thinking toward the flesh. But knowing the word of God for the purpose of knowing God is different. Seeking Him and abiding in Christ opens a whole new relationship. Jesus says: “If you abide in me, I will abide in you” (John 15:4).

What I am proposing is a simple change in thinking. Next time you read the Bible or a devotional, actively think about why you are doing it. Are you doing it to gather intellectual knowledge about God? Or are you doing it to really get to know God? If you will do that and ask God to grow your relationship with Him – to abide in you, he will — and I think you will be amazed at the result.

Getting back to the image… The result from this way of thinking is a changed heart (really a changing heart, as God’s work in us in never done). God loves a cheerful giver, because a truly cheerful giver has a heart for God. Don’t be fooled, God does not want us to be cheerful givers on the outside, while we wrestle with our fleshliness on the inside. If we truly let Him, He will change our hearts and work within us to eliminate that turmoil with our sin nature.