Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-9
“’Thoughts disentangle themselves … over the lips and through the fingertips.’
“I learned that saying over thirty years ago, and just about every time I put it to the test, it works! Whenever I have difficulty comprehending the complicated or clarifying the complex, I talk it out or write it out. This is especially helpful when it comes to scriptural truth. For some strange reason the human brain seems reluctant to retain divine information simply by hearing it.
“Take the importance of joy, for example – or, more specifically giving joyfully to God. …
”Look again at those final five words [of 2 Corinthians 9:7]: ‘God loves a cheerful giver.’ The original meaning of the word translated here as ‘cheerful’ is ‘hilarious,‘ and this is the only time it’s found in the New Testament. It’s the hilarious giver God prizes.
“I can think of a couple more examples of hilarious givers in the New Testament: a man named Onesiphorus who ‘often refreshed’ Paul (2 Tim. 1:16-18); and a church – the Philippians – who contributed generously to Paul’s needs (Phil. 4:14-16).
“… I’d like to make the following four suggestions for ways we can bring joy into our giving.
”Reflect on God’s gifts to you. …
“Remind yourself of His promises regarding generosity. …
“Examine your heart. …
“Glorify God by becoming generous. …”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Point
When I read the first two paragraphs of this devotion, I was thinking about a totally different post entitled “Welcome to My Therapy Session.” In Philippians 2:12, the Apostle Paul tells us to work out our salvation, and I sometimes start typing to work out an issue that I’m fighting with, praying that something will happen.
If you have read a few of my posts and picked up on that, please, have mercy in the comments. I try to edit these things to see if they make sense, but then again, I’m the only one in the world that has my brain. It made sense to me.
But now we come to the real topic, hilarious generosity.
The first time that I was laid off was when the NASA project closed in the northeast corner of Mississippi. As part of the severance package in the government contract, we all attended a training session on job hunting. For several days we went over resume formats, cover letters, job hunting psychology (including when you hit the wall and do stupid things), and such things as how to present yourself at an interview or even answer the telephone.
As a result, I kept a hand-held mirror with me. When the phone rang, I looked at the ugly mug in the mirror and smiled. That grotesque person in the mirror actually smiled back. His smile looked so goofy that I answered the phone with a light-hearted “Hello!” This was before the days of caller ID and I wasted my smiling, hilarious greeting on the secretary at our sons’ high school, letting me know when the next band boosters meeting was.
I did the same thing before an interview, not with a handheld mirror – that would give the interviewer the idea that I was a Narcissist, but in the reflection of a nearby window, or I’d go to the restroom while waiting – always early for the appointment.
That got me to thinking about the hilarious giver. Rev. Swindoll’s four ideas are fine, but why not smile at your reflection in the mirror before you write the check or click the button for on-line giving. When you put the dollar into the jar in Sunday school to sponsor children in a Haiti orphanage (You mean not everyone does that?!), smile when you do it. Smile when you drop the offering envelope into the plate when it is passed to you. Not the “I’m going to kill Batman” smile, but a smile that is accompanied with a chuckle, under your breath.
Our gifts can spread into the things that we do. When you go on a mission trip to muck out someone’s house after a flood, everyone is wearing masks to protect from the mildew, but the homeowner will still be attracted to the one who is cheerfully smiling. You can tell it in the eyes and the lilt of the voice and the warmth of a touch.
But make sure that when you give something joyfully, it is something that the receiver needs and enjoys receiving it.
And thinking of hilarious giving, Mark Lowry, a recovering fundamentalist, can turn any comedy act into an altar call. Now that is hilarious generosity.
Yes, maybe the thing most important to give hilariously is your testimony. Mark Lowry told some jokes and kept people interested in what he’d say next, and what he said was an invitation to ask Jesus into your heart. It’s worth the ten minutes to listen to what he has to say, as he says it joyfully and hilariously.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.