We have an abundance of “smart” electronics these days, don’t we? Smart phones. Smart cars. They weren’t designed to keep us from having to actually be smart, though! I’m talking today about giving, and how we can give intelligently by giving OBEDIENTLY.
There’s really a difference, you know. The difference is the fruit that is borne from the seed we sow. Generosity is a noble and wonderful trait (the Bible says for us to be givers!) when it works in tandem with obedience to God. We should indeed be cheerful and liberal givers; but it’s doubly important that we listen for God’s instructions, because foolish generosity is, well, FOOLISH. The whole of that text says this (I love the Voice Translation of 2 Cor. 9:7): Giving grows out of the heart—otherwise, you’ve reluctantly grumbled “yes” because you felt you had to or because you couldn’t say “no,” but this isn’t the way God wants it. For we know that “God loves a cheerful giver.” When our giving is God-directed, it is smart giving; obedient giving which isn’t given for ulterior motives, or given out of guilt or compulsion or a need to just feel good!
A generous parent, for instance, can harm his or her child through excessive giving not tempered by wisdom. Would you give your child candy for breakfast just because he or she wants it? Of course not! But would you breed a materialistic appetite in your child by enabling him or her to get every single thing the child wants, just for the asking? Do you operate in fear of not being your child’s friend, when in reality, your child needs you to set boundaries, to say no once in a while? Following God’s direction will keep perfect balance instead of making the child entitled, spoiled, selfish, wasteful. You can actually TEACH your child by anointed example as you give wisely. This applies in every area of our lives, not just parenting! Sometimes we have to say no to ourselves! I know I sure do! Read on.
Remember the song, “What a Friend We Have In Jesus?” Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer…
That familiar verse perfectly sums up our lives when we don’t listen for His voice! Yes, it’s true. We’ve gotten used to just asking for things…perhaps we need to return to asking for Him to reveal His will in decisions we are facing. It even applies to our giving of our time, talent, and treasure. I know all too well what it’s like to give just because it feels good. The importance however goes beyond my flesh feeling good, and therefore, my motivation must have a higher purpose than gratifying my flesh!
How can one be a selfish giver, you might ask…sounds like an oxymoron! It’s taken and is still taking time and experience, and also a deeper knowledge of my Lord through intimate relationship, to know that responsibility accompanies our ability to say yes. My ability to say NO has in times past gotten me into trouble. Hey Lisa, can you join this club? Can you go here and do that and can you be available at all hours for anything anyone asks? Oh yeah…I’ve been so bogged down with to-do’s which I agreed to in order to be a people pleaser. Then, exhausted, I would find myself bitter at having no downtime, or nothing at all left. Often, I’ve had not one piece of fruit to show for it, because I didn’t have the courage to say, “I’ll get back to you…I really need to talk to God before I commit to this!”
Well, go back to the passage in the Bible where Saul took the spoils of war after God had specifically told him not to…and then he tried to appease God by sacrificing some of the livestock on altars to justify his disobedience of a direct order! Talk about insulting God’s omniscience! The Scriptures tell us that obedience is better than sacrifice. Saul’s disobedience would eventually cost him his kingdom…even his descendants would suffer consequences because of his foolishness. We ourselves can undo all the good of our generosity whenever we sidestep what God has already instructed. Why would we not take the counsel of the One Who actually KNOWS the outcome? When we have His voice, we already have the inside track to what is going to be a blessing, be blessed, and bear fruit!
Bear in mind, He will sometimes direct us to give when it DOESN’T have that euphoric, how-wonderful-it-feels effect! Can we respond when there’s a need in our own life? Can we be as the widow who cooks her last meal for the prophet before there’s evidence we will have enough for ourselves? Don’t stop being generous, for heaven’s sake…but lay your heart and your feelings on the altar and allow Him to direct you to good ground. Even good ground can’t produce its best yield if you cram the seeds too closely together! Give your acts of kindness the best chance for a harvest by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Instead of it just being said that you’d give someone the shirt off your back, let it be said that you heard from God and responded with the right thing at the right time!
“In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (AMP)