I heard a preacher say that when money is given “dutifully and begrudgingly”, the person who receives the money still gets the blessing, but the giver doesn’t. When we give money to some charitable activity, the hungry are blessed with food, the naked are blessed with clothes and the lost are blessed with the good news of Jesus, but we, the grumpy givers, are not blessed…hmmm…
The preacher wasn’t a “health and wealth” evangelist. He wasn’t implying that God was going to punish any of his children who didn’t have a smile on his when he put his money in the plate on Sunday. But this idea that grumpy givers were not blessed by their dutiful donations struck me as mistaken. I suppose that’s because I have grudgingly given to those in need and I think that I’ve been blessed by it.
It would be inappropriate to give details but here’s a broad outline of what happened. A couple of thousands dollars came my way which had not been worked into the family budget. My wife and I were excited about the possibilities that this money afforded us. We talked about investing, saving for a replacement car, tending to various household expenses and even having some fun with the kids. Then we found out about a co-worker of mine who was in a very bad situation. He and his family were in serious need. The question was not whether to help. The question was how much money were we going to give. We budget for charitable situations so we knew that whatever was allotted for that month would be given, but the man’s predicament was bad. He needed more than what we had budgeted…and we had an unallocated surplus.
We knew that it would be a great blessing to give all of that surplus to my co-worker. We knew that it would be a very Godly thing to do. We knew that we didn’t really want to give it all, and we knew that God knew it. So, we prayed. We told God what he already knew; that we wanted to keep it, that we could use it to tend to the legitimate needs of our own family, that we were ready to let the money go but that we were not going to be able to do it cheerfully. Then we let it go.
I think that the most immediate blessing that we experienced in giving that surplus cash to that needy co-worker was a loosening of the grip that money had on our hearts. Another blessing we got from giving in spite of our lack of enthusiasm was an increase in moral muscle mass. You see, I believe that just as we gain strength in our physical muscles by applying effort against some resistance (i.e. gravity), we also gain strength in our moral character when we go against our own resistance and do what we know is right. The result is that with each decision to do what is right, doing the right thing becomes easier. In regards to giving money, I think that our decision to go ahead and give, albeit reluctantly, has resulted in our being able to give larger sums and to give them (at times) cheerfully…or at least (at other times) less reluctantly.
God loves a cheerful giver, but he also loves the begrudging giver. So, of course, God wants the begrudging giver to learn to be cheerful in his giving. For this to even be possible, there has to be some giving going on.