by James A. Fowler
"God loves a cheerful giver" Paul declares in II Corinthians 9:7. The Greek word for "cheerful" is the word from which we get the English word "hilarious." That does not mean that Christian giving is to be engaged in with a slap-happy attitude of laughter and frivolity and light-heartedness. Rather, when we understand the grace of God as the impetus of Christian giving, we are cheerful, or better yet, we are satisfied. The Greek word hilaros, is the same root as the word for "propitiation" or satisfaction. The Christian is satisfied that he is functioning as God intended man to function by allowing the giving God to function through him.
When Dr. Richard Leaky, the renowned anthropologist, was asked "what separates man from apes?", his reply was, "our capacity for generosity!" Dr. Leaky does not seem to have any spiritual understanding of how genuine givingness is the expression of the giving God in His people, but it is still an interesting observation of the distinctive of mankind. We were created as vessels for the expression of God's givingness, God's Grace, God's generosity. And when we allow that to take place, we are fulfilled, satisfied, cheerful. We are distinctively mankind as God intended man to be.
God provides the means to give as well as the incentive to give, and we are the conduit, the channel, the vessel deriving the givingness from the character of God. Thus we fulfill His intent for mankind as He created us.
The amount of what is given does not produce the attitude of satisfaction and cheerfulness. The attitude comes as we are properly used of God, even if the amount is but a "widow's mite." Jesus pointed out the attitude of the widow as recorded in Mark 12:41-44:
"And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury, and many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, 'Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."
The widow gave what she had, beyond her "comfort zone," and surely experienced the satisfaction of being a cheerful giver.
©1999 by James A. Fowler
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