Churches and ministries are constantly trying to get people to give money. What they ought to do is get them to enjoy God.
People who enjoy God enjoy giving. They are happy givers. They love to give. They are somewhat selfish about their giving—that is, they are protective of the joy that their giving brings them. They know the truth of the verse that says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 9:35 )
Only children enjoy getting Christmas presents more than giving them.
This is not just some sort of investment strategy. This verse is not a left-brained, analytical, chess game where we are trying to get by giving. It is not a pro forma-type strategy to get some future blessing from God. For the person who enjoys God, this is not a futures market. It is overflow. It is now. The person who enjoys God gives for the thrill of giving. He loves it. It really does bring more pleasure than receiving. Only children enjoy getting Christmas presents more than giving them. He dreams of the day when he can give more. He plans for it, and he is making progress.
The person who enjoys God does not need a Greek lexicon to understand that blessed means happy. He is not surprised to learn the background of 2 Corinthians 9:7, “God loves a cheerful giver.” The Greek word translated cheerful is the word from which we get our word hilarious. That sounds right to the person who enjoys God. It feels right to him. It is a happy, hilariously happy thing to give.
I have heard Christians argue the point of giving on the gross versus the net. People who enjoy God don’t worry about that sort of thing. They enjoy giving. They do as Wesley suggested:
☞Make all you can;
☞Save all you can; [By which he meant refrain from spending, not hoard all you can.]
☞Give all you can.
You ask the wrong question and you come out with the wrong answer. “Do I have to tithe on the gross?” seems like the wrong question to the person who enjoys God. They want to figure out a way to give more. They love the feeling that the selfishness that once tormented them, the fear that once enslaved them, the insecurity that kept clutching, is gone. At least, it is going. They know they never fully arrive. They also love the feeling of making a difference in this world, of advancing the kingdom of God through their meager resources.
It is not directly related to giving, but people who enjoy God are affected in other ways. Their attitude toward money is different from most. For example, if a person who enjoys God buys a used car, he looks at the whole matter much differently from the perspective of fairness, rather than getting the best deal he can possibly get. They are as concerned for the person they are buying from as they are themselves. Fairness is the key value, not getting a car as inexpensively as possible. They want the other person to feel as good about the deal as they. They are looking for what Covey calls win-win.18 They want to give to everyone. They want to give a good deal to the people they purchase things from. It is not just a matter of giving to church or charities.
People who enjoy God are almost selfish in their desire to give. They will not let anyone take the joy of giving from them.
The other side of things is that people who enjoy God are not hung up if they cannot give as much as they would like this month. If, unexpectedly, the car breaks down, or their child has some unanticipated medical bills, they may not give as much as they usually do. This bothers the person who enjoys God because they love the pleasure of giving. But it never occurs to them that God may be mad at them or love them less or any other foolishness. They know they do not have a God like that. He is their Father. They are not hung up on “paying it back,” as if it were some sort of back tax. They just look forward to being able to give again; and the more the better.
This is not to say that people who enjoy God do not give sacrificially. There is some truth in the adage, “Give ’till it hurts.” But it is a welcome pain, like the warmth in the muscles after a good workout. This is what David was saying to Araunah when he said, (2 Samuel 24:24 ), “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
The fun starts when we are in the sacrifice zone.
Joy in giving comes after we pay the price of sacrifice. A tipping mentality never thrills the soul. It doesn’t thrill the soul of God and it doesn’t thrill the soul of the giver. The fun starts when we are in the sacrifice zone. We feel like we are doing something, like our life matters. There is a certain adventure in the risk of giving more than you ever thought possible to a God who gave His all. This is an important dimension of giving for those who enjoy God. They do not see it primarily as a gift to the church; they see it as it really is, a gift to God. And they do not give only to the church. They often give to a variety of missionaries and ministries that have touched their lives over the years. They are open handed to fellow brothers in the church who are in need. It goes without saying they are not hung up on tax credit for these gifts; that is not their motive anyway. They only want tax credit so they can have more money to give to God.
People who enjoy God try to arrange their finances with a very fluid cash flow. They like to have reserves in the pipe in case a brother has a need. This is a priority to them so they practice what Bill Hybels calls, “downward mobility.”
Motivating a person who enjoys God is a little different from motivating others. Some of our ideas don’t work so well:
Of course many of our methods are not needed either. Remember, this is a person who wants to give. If they are told the need, told what it will cost, given an opportunity, and given some time to think about it, that is all they need. Chances are they will try to figure out a way to make it possible.
I think giving campaigns ought to target the person who enjoys God. They would be a lot more pleasurable that way. And the church ought to work harder at getting people to enjoy God and not so hard at getting their money.