Mercy and Cheerful Giving by Rene Milner
I was meditating on giving the other day and it is amazing where the Spirit will take you if you stay in scripture and take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. I thought I would step through my meditation with you and see if I can connect some dots and maybe someone else can identify with where I was lead in the Spirit. Before I do, please I recognize there is a whole system (call it the flesh or the world or the devil) set up to try and deceive me into thinking I am on a Godly path when really I am not. That system is there for all of us all the time and thus our need to refer back to Scripture, but also to share our thoughts with one another and be open to questioning and correction by each other as the body works within itself.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
My past understanding of this was that I should “give of my money”. That day I heard God saying “You need to work on mercy”. Let me see if I can show you how I got there.
The word “sow”. I had to think of areas in scripture where this is used. Often used in regards to planting crops it is also used as a metaphor for our thoughts and actions, but the concept that moved me the most was the parable of the sower where Jesus himself tells us, in Luke, that the “seed is the Word of God”. Now we can use our money to plant the word of God in people’s hearts but that, I believe, is often an excuse for not doing the hard work of sharing the Gospel and more importantly planting it deep within ourselves. I am going to make the assumption that we all understand that we should give cheerfully of our financial abundance so that others can see our Father who is in Heaven and glorify Him.
Given this then, how else can I put the idea of sowing together with giving joyfully? Well, first of all God does not really need “my” cash. Does the Creator of all things and the Owner of the “cattle on a thousand hills” want me to only take the tiny amount He has given me and just put a portion in an envelope so that my conscience is soothed? I don’t think so. I need to give something more.
Truly, Christ is The Sower. Then what do I control here? The quality of the soil. The way I receive the word. I want to be the one that “hearing the word, hold(s) it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear(s) fruit with patience.” How do I connect giving and being soil? The only real answer is that I can only give that which I truly “have”. My soil. My heart. I give myself willingly to let the Word sown in me grow and flourish. I don’t get in the way with my agenda and my desires. That is pretty nebulous so I had to ask myself what are the concrete things that I can actually work on. Verse seven answers. I must be a “Cheerful giver”. What does that mean? This is my paraphrase of verse 7.
Each in the manner previously chosen in the thoughts and feelings not out of sadness grief or sorrow and from (bent/arms) ache or distress because The Supreme Divinity loves in a pure social or moral sense a gracious and merciful giver.
There is a lot there but what hit me was the way cheerful was a kind of gracious and merciful giver. As I applied that to myself I had to ask, “Am I gracious and merciful?” One of my focus points was how do I show mercy. In this day and age it is unlikely that I will allow someone to live when they deserve the death penalty. I think that fact makes us all gloss over mercy. (Mercy simply put is not meting out a punishment that would otherwise be due) We are all about grace. (Giving a positive to someone when they don’t deserve it) but now is the time to learn to be more merciful. How does God show mercy? We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death and yet while we were sinners God did not mete out His punishment on us but He sent His only Son to be the propitiation for our sinfulness. Rather than just take the simple route God took the hard way. He took it on Himself and allowed us space. Even to the point of removing the barriers preventing us from coming to Him. Our own wrongfulness. How can we also live that out? For me I think of the times when I think I am right and how hard I am to people that are “wrong”. Please realize that I know that I am often wrong. Even if I am right, mercy to me means being gentle with the other. Not forcing my view on them. Allowing them space to work on an issue. Softly helping where I can. Never letting go of what is right but not imposing that on others. Boy do I need to work on mercy!
Maybe you still don’t get how being a “cheerful giver” is a call to mercy, but that’s ok. My point here is that if you take time to spend with the Word and stick to the Word leaning not on your own understanding, God will direct your path and guide you into all truth.
Praise God! Love your neighbor.