Ask and Accept, Believe and Be Bold, Call on Christ, Delightfully Do, Eagerly Exclaim, Forgiven to Forgiven…Give with Gladness.
Give with Gladness? The book of Acts speaks about the formation of the early church. Believers were filled with the Holy Spirit, and the church was alive with eagerness and excitement in coming together as a unified body. Many gave freely of their possessions to meet the needs of others; it was a powerful, beautiful time in biblical history. However, one man named Ananias, along with his wife Sapphira, only pretended to be part of this unity. Like others, they sold their land to benefit the church; but instead of giving with gladness, they secretly kept back some of the money they made from the sale. They were not only lying to the church members and the church leaders, but also to the Holy Spirit. Their lack of trust in the Lord, as well as their deception, brought about their untimely demise. (See Acts 5:1-11).
Give with Gladness! In the same church body, there was a man named Barnabas; not by coincidence, his name means Son of Encouragement. He, being filled with the Holy Spirit, was given the gift of compassion towards the poor. His heart was always willing to go to the downtrodden and give with gladness. In fact, Barnabas made the decision to sell his tract of land and give all the collected money to the church. His cheerful heart and his monetary gift blessed all those around him. (See Acts 4:32-37).
When looking at these two contrasting stories, I don’t think the Lord was concerned by the amount of money that these individuals gave (or withheld) from the church. He was, and always is, peering into the heart of the individual. Our heart is the center of our worship, so making a heart-decision to give something freely is a sacrificial act of reverence to the Lord first, that He, in turn, uses to bless others. He can take any gift of any kind and multiply it a hundredfold if He so desires. Think of the two fish and the five loaves that Jesus divided among thousands on the hillside. God can do anything with our faithfilled gifts of the heart.
What do you have to give today? Time? Money? Encouragement? A helping hand? Trust the Lord fully, respond to the Holy Spirit’s nudging; don’t hold back, give with gladness. And then, be assured that He smiles on your act of worship. No telling how He will multiply your gift among those who need it.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7