There are so many ways that we can be cheerful givers. This congregation is truly a giving people and cheerful givers.
Everyone has to make his or her mind as to how much to give and how much he or she can give; this is an individual and personal decision. God loves a cheerful giver and he blesses those who are cheerful givers.
When we put God first in our giving, he is able to make this up to us by giving us everything we need, and more, so that there will not only be enough for our own needs but enough left over to give joyfully to others.
This is our Test of Mercy. Taking care of the poor and the needy and helping people in other ways is a test for us in being merciful. How we extend ourselves to the widows, orphans and the needy in other ways will test the genuineness of our faith.
Matthew 25:31-46:”When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Jesus here describes the examination of man on the judgment day. He separates those that have pure, true faith from those do not, by examining their fruit, specifically how we have cared for the poor and needy. He shows clearly that a life poured out into acts of mercy to widows, orphans, the poor and needy is a true indication of our hearts and of our faith. By such acts God judges our fruits and decides whether or not we truly love him and understand his love, or have just gone through the motions, put on a show and lived a life that is empty, void, with no real concept of who he is and what he is really about.
So our giving is a test, it is a mercy test of how we extend ourselves to others.
He wants us to be like him.
He is generous.
He is cheerful.
He loves to give.
He loves to bless.
So that is why God loves a cheerful giver, because it says you are like him.
When we think of judgment day, we usually have in our minds this preconceived notion that he is just going to separate liars, fornicators and adulterers, but in the passage quoted above, he addresses questions: Who did you take care of? Did you take care of my people? Did you take care of the widows? Did you take care of the needy?
If we give to the poor, the needy and the orphans, or help others in some other way, God will bless us. So let us always give with cheerful hearts.
God expects us to be merciful to the widows, the orphans and the poor. This is our test of mercy. He wants to see if we are merciful as he is merciful.
God is so pleased when we act like him; that brings joy to his heart. And when we act like him, we become generous, we are merciful, and we are kind to others.
–Michael Dorsey, 3-25-07 a.m. — a meditation before passing the collection baskets.