Summary: The Lord is THE Cheerful Giver - ready to bless us to be a blessing

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1. This year our stewardship emphasis has been “Holy (H-O-L-Y) obligated.” We are focusing on what it means to be a Biblical – Chrsitian steward. A steward doesn’t own anything – a steward manages what belongs to someone else. And the text we have been using is 2 Corinthians 12:14, “What I want is not your possessions, but you…” But, what does this mean? In part it means that the one who is holy obligated is the cheerful giver.

2. Not like the old joke about the Roman Catholic priest, the Baptist minister and the Lutheran pastor. They were discussing how they decided what portion of the offering should come to them personally. The Priest said, “Well, I draw a circle on the ground – step away ten yards and then I toss the collection at the circle. Whatever ends up in the circle is mine.” The Baptist minister said, “Well – that’s almost what I do – but I keep whatever falls outside that circle.” The Lutheran pastor then spoke up. “You are doing it all wrong” he said. What I do is I throw all the collection up into the air – and let God keep whatever He wants.”

3. Paul’s second letter to the Christians at Corinth addresses, among other things, a collection he has been taking. The church in Corinth (Corinth was the capital of Greece at that time) was made up mostly of gentile Christians. The collection was to go to the Jews in Jerusalem – where a severe drought was causing starvation. But this was a time of strained relationships between Christians and Jews – and these gentile Corinthians weren’t very eager to participate. Furthermore, some in the Corinthian congregation were accusing Paul of wanting the money for himself!

So Paul writes to them, “Each of you must give as you have decided in your heart – not reluctantly or under compulsion – for the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The Cheerful Giver is (I submit to you) the one who is holy (h-o-l-y) obligated.

I. If you want to be “holy obligated” – if you want to be the Cheerful Giver - then three things are required: give out of joy , give without expecting anything in return, and give more than expected.

1. The Cheerful Giver gives out of joy. Not reluctantly. If you cannot be joyful about what you give – give God less – or maybe more. Some studies show those who give more are more joyful.

United Healthcare surveyed 4,500 American adults about their volunteer time. 41 percent of Americans volunteer an average of 100 hours a year. 89% of those reported that "Volunteering has improved my sense of well-bring." 92% agree that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life. 72% characterized themselves as "optimistic" compared to only 60% of non-volunteers. Does giving more make us more joyful? It would seem so.

The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem could not get over their angry fights with Paul When Paul took the money he had collected and brought it to Jerusalem – he was arrested and ended up in jail. But, even from jail, Paul could write to the Philippian Christians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice.… Do not be anxious about anything.” Paul put together a great gift – and that gift was rejected – but he could still be joyful. What about you? Are you anxious, or joyful in giving? In life?

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