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Living with Open Hands



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 9:6-11 NIV)


You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.


It is the nature of love to give to the beloved. Love does not hoard. Love does not keep for itself. Love looks for opportunities to bless. Love instinctively provides for another, even if the providing means denying myself in order to do so. Love lives with open hands.


Exhibit A: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son... Exhibit B: parents' spending on themselves alters drastically when they have a child. Exhibit C (for a committed follower of Jesus Christ): giving to God's work becomes a priority in order to bless others.


Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Giving to God's work is like planting seeds. It has a harvest of blessing. It produces the fruit of joy. The more we give, the more we are blessed. And this is also true: the more we trust God, the more we will give generously, depending on Him to provide all we need. More about that in a moment.


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. God leaves the deciding up to us. He doesn't pry support for His church and its ministries out of our hands. He doesn't force us to give to the needs of others. And God is blessed when our giving is not reluctant - when it is whole-hearted. When giving to others comes from the love in our hearts, God knows Jesus is really making transformation in our lives, and it pleases Him.


God loves a cheerful giver. The Greek here has the sense of a hilarious giver. Think Ebenezer Scrooge giving the big Christmas goose to the Crachet family with a twinkle in his eye and laughter on his lips. Something has drastically changed in our hearts when we go from "Oh, no, not another offering at Church to give to," to "Awesome, another opportunity to be a blessing and make Jesus real."


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. Back to the part about trusting God and giving generously. Notice here that God starts the giving. The One who loves us most is able to bless us abundantly. That's especially true when He knows blessing us will result in our having all we need and in our abounding in every good work. He gives to us in order to give through us to even more of the children He loves.


Shirley and I have tithed our income to the church we attend and serve our entire adult lives. It is one way we have lived with open hands in joyful obedience to the God who redeemed us and who provides all we need. In addition to the tithe, we give to special offerings, sponsor a child in Guatemala, and express our love and generosity by simple things like buying a meal for a police officer in a restaurant.


Tithing is simple: it is giving 10% of what we receive from God in love and gratitude. When God established a nation of people to make Himself real to the world, He commanded them to set aside a tenth as an offering to God. Tithing is the beginning point for Christian giving, according to Scripture. A thriving, transformed, generous follower of Jesus will give far beyond the tithe to others.


You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. It's a matter of who is Lord of my life - Jesus or me. And it's a matter of breaking the idolatry of money and possessions and living a life of trust in the One who will never let me down. God loves a cheerful giver. I recommend it. Live with open hands and watch what God does in your life. You simply cannot out-give God.

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