7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
Summertime at the Farmers Market! Your senses are overwhelmed with the variety of produce on display as you seek the sweetest of the corn, the freshest and most tender green beans, and the juiciest tomatoes. You have done business here before, and you know which vendors give you the best value for your money by putting that extra tomato in the sack, that extra yellow squash in the basket, or adding an extra ear of corn to the two dozen you already picked out.
Then you see it—that basket of turnip greens—and you wonder if there is value for the price, if you are getting a “good measure, pressed down,” or if you are getting a “fluffed up basket.” The visual experience reminds you of Jesus’ words in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured in your lap.”
The Bible speaks volumes about giving and getting. The Old Testament is filled with stories of all God gave the Israelites in fulfilling His covenant relationship through Abraham. Seed, land and blessings—these summarize the abundance God so freely poured out on His people.
In today’s Scripture, Paul provides the analogy of the farmer who reaps in proportion to what he sows. I grew up in Bells Bend, a fertile farming area of Davidson County. All the farmers I knew planted in abundance because they expected to reap an abundant harvest. That’s just plain common sense.
Then Paul gets personal by connecting giving to the attitude of our hearts. He moves us to examine our motives for giving. Do we give only what we think other people deserve? Do we fear others will misuse our gifts? What we are pressured into giving? What can we give comfortably and really not miss?
Or do we give simply because we know God has trusted us with much? With that trust, God expects us to be a pass-thru of His blessings to others. If we really pay attention, we realize that as we give, God provides more to give and share with others. That simple fact should really make our hearts cheerful.
Maybe this Scripture is about more than giving our resources. Jesus spoke of giving and getting in another context: the context of forgiveness. Read Matthew 6:14-15. In this red-letter, ‘if-then’ statement, Jesus says, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.” Jesus makes it very clear that the order is not “get forgiveness, then give forgiveness.” The proper order is “give forgiveness, then receive forgiveness.”
But sometimes the pain of the wrong against us is so deep and personal that it’s hard to let it go and forgive. Thankfully, a merciful God, through the power of His Word, shows us the pathway to forgive others. We are given the example of Jesus on the cross saying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Paul challenges us to “let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 2:5-11) and to “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”(Romans 12:2).
By the grace of God and through prayer and study of His Word, our hearts and minds can be transformed to forgive, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are you willing to let go of old attitudes? Why or why not?
- Have you asked the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of your attitude toward giving and forgiving?
- Consider reading Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall.