A Hilarious Giver

James Sanders
Greencastle, Indiana

The Lord is not a pauper nor is He a beggar. Paul argued in Athens that God who made the heavens and earth is not worshipped with the hands of men as though he needed anything. (Cf. Acts 17:24, 25). All things belong to God by right of creation. He owns all things because He has made all things. And yet this same Lord has freely given life, and breath and all things. Every good and perfect gift is from above. (Cf. Jas, 1:17).

When a man returns a portion of God's abundant blessings, he should remember that the Lord is not in need. And because of this fact, not every gift is accepted with Him. The Scriptures point out: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart so let him give: not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9:7). The man who fails to give cheerfully fails to give at all. The Lord simply will not accept his offering.

But what does it mean to give cheerfully? Several things are involved. Man must not give haphazardly but rather he must purpose in his heart. The giving must not be done out of a sense of reluctance or compulsion. Giving must be done cheerfully or not at all.

"Cheerful" is from the Greek hilaros which "signifies that readiness of mind, that joyousness which is prompt to do anything; hence cheerful" (Vine, Vol 1, p. 184). It is from the Greek hilaros that we get our English word, "hilarious" (to be hilarious is to be overcome with joy and mirth). This is what the Scriptures mean when they speak of a "cheerful giver." Barclay, in his version, renders: "God loves a man who enjoys giving" (2 Cor 9: 7). This is exactly the idea! When a man gives cheerfully he looks forward to giving with great anticipation. He enjoys giving - it is an occasion of great hilarity (he is overcome with joy and mirth). But are we cheerful (hilarious) givers? Think about it before next Lord's Day ... our souls depend upon it.

October 21, 1971