My wife and I have been crunching a lot of numbers on our budget lately, trying to set aside a good pad of savings.
One major expenditure was the three-year commitment we made to give our church’s building fund. The last year of our commitment is 2012, and it was relieving when I considered that chunk of money could be funneled into savings for 2013 and beyond.
But then a wave of disgust hit me. How selfish and materialistic am I when I’m eager for our commitment to end so that I can spend the money on myself? In that moment, I was anything but a cheerful giver.
And as I considered my attitude, I thought about how we sometimes feel the same about time. Is giving of our time a cheerful pleasure – or do we look at it as a burden?
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
We talk about being cheerful givers of our money. And although money is the main focus here in this context, the language that Paul uses goes far beyond just finances.
In fact, he purposefully points out that God makes all grace abound to us, so that we would have sufficiency in all things at all times in order to abound in every good work.
So this passage applies to our time as well.
Why Are We Cheerful?
What makes us take joy in giving of our time?
It’s certainly wonderful if we enjoy the tasks that we’re doing – but that’s not the reason we’re cheerful.
It’s great if we enjoy the company of our partners that we serve with – but that’s not the reason that we’re cheerful.
It’s fun and pleasant if we like being around the people that we serve – but even that’s not the reason that we’re cheerful.
If you read a few verses later in 2 Corinthians 9, Paul discusses how God will be glorified by the generosity of his people.
We are cheerful givers of our time because giving is a way to bring glory to our God and to store up eternal joy for ourselves.
Promise of Sufficiency
I know what you’re thinking. Our time is limited. There’s so much to do, and so little time to get it all done.
But verse 8 contains a wonderful promise for us. First, God is able. The promise originates from his strength, not ours.
And he is able to make grace abound to us so that we would have all sufficiency.
Interestingly, the word for sufficiency can also be translated as contentment – and that’s where we see the implications here. We have sufficiency for all we need. Not all we want to do or feel like we should do. But all we need.
Perhaps a major key to being a cheerful volunteer is focusing a little more on our time needs and less on our time wants.
Photo Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery
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