Summary: Sermon 3 of 3: Three things that should characterize our giving and why.
God Loves A Cheerful Giver
Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church
January 22, 2006
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court for 30 years. He was nominated by President Teddy Roosevelt. It has been said that his mind, wit and work earned him the unofficial title of "the greatest justice since John Marshall." It seems that at one point in his life he was asked about his career choice. Justice Holmes explained his choice by saying: "I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers."
I really don’t think much has changed in the years that have passed since he said that, but I really do not think that it is a clergy problem – it is a Christian problem. Ask any choir member to describe the looks of joy they see in your faces on Sunday morning and it may not be joy they describe. Are our expressions those of joy and delight, or are they those of distraction and boredom? It has been said many times from many pulpits that we of all people ought to be the happiest people on earth. Ours truly is joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Today as we conclude this series of messages on giving, I want us to consider 2 Corinthians 9:7. It is a verse I mentioned briefly last Sunday, but wanted to devote an entire message to it today. Let’s read what Paul said.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
I believe that God is in control of all things. If you read the monthly newsletter then you know I had made plans back in December to preach this verse today, but after writing last Sunday’s sermon and preaching this verse as part of that message I really had no idea how I would devote an entire message to it. On Monday as I was working in the yard I was praying about it again when the Lord brought to mind a brief conversation that took place after church last Sunday. I won’t tell you who said it, and I hope the individual doesn’t mind me saying it, but after I finished preaching someone approached me and said to me as best as I remember, “Preacher, let’s see if I have this right. If I understood you right then the only way God will love me is if I am giving my money.”
I’m not sure I quoted it just right, but I want to tell you I chewed on that all week. After all, the Bible says that “God loves a cheerful giver.” Could that be reversed to say that God does not love uncheerful givers? Or that God does not love people who do not give? I remembered another conversation with a dear lady who was sorely upset that she was unable to give like she used to give. She told me that she hoped God would not punish her for cutting back on her giving. In other words, she feared that God would love her less if she gave less. Am I or are we guilty of manipulating people into giving by sending out the message that God will only love them if they are giving to the church?
I have preached before and will continue to preach that there’s nothing you can do in this life to make God love you any more than He already loves you. It is also true that there’s nothing you can do to make God love you any less. God proved His love for you when He sent Christ to earth to live and die for your sins. He proved that He had infinite love for you when He crucified His only begotten Son on the cross of Calvary to save a wretch like me. God could not possibly love you or me any more than He has already demonstrated.
No matter what you do with your life, no matter how badly you mess it up, no matter your poor decisions or mistakes or even how far into sin you run, you cannot make God love you any less. Today He stands with arms open wide to receive you if you will only repent of your sin and turn to Him for salvation or a renewed relationship with Him.
The Bible says that God loves everyone. God obviously feels something differently for those who cheerfully give than He does for those who do not. So why is there this distinction about His love for those who give cheerfully when He already loves us? This morning I want you to consider three things for which God is looking when you give, regardless of what you give, and then I’ll close by stating why He is looking for them.