Do You Wanna Be Happy?
Show me a happy person. Are they generous? Probably. Show me a discontented person? Are they selfish? Probably. There is a circular Bible logic that goes like this: God loves happy givers, and if God loves on a giver, the giver is happy.
You may want to read:
- A Theology of Gift-Giving
- Are You Characterized As a Thankful Person
- Cynicism Is a Numbness Toward Life
It does not matter where you jump into that circular sentence, all of the words connect to each other: God-Love-Happy-Giver. There is a reason for this: when we give generously we are living out who we are in Christ — we are emulating the Lord.
Because God is a generous giver, as the gospel implies, it only makes sense that Christians want to be generous too. Being generous is more than giving your money away. It is giving your life away, which is the gospel. Jesus Christ gave His life away. Happiness comes when we model the self-sacrifice of the Savior by giving our lives away.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. — 2 Corinthians 8:9
How generous are you? How do you proactively think about and plan to give your life away? Here is a short list of things generous people give away.
- They give away their money.
- They give their love away.
- They give their encouragement away.
- They give their Christian example away.
- They give their joy away.
- They give their kind words away.
- They give their time away.
- They give their homes away (hospitality).
The Point Is — “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” — 2 Corinthians 9:6–7
In our organization, we use the term “flow-through” to describe the process of being a middleman or distributor of what others give to us. For example, each Friday evening we go to our local Panera Bread (sandwich shop) and pick up all of their leftover bread.
Each year we receive more than $30,000 (retail value) of bread products. We bring the bread home, separate it, and distribute it to various people or organizations. We’ve been doing this since 2010. The reason for our bread distribution is multi-faceted. For example,
- We do it because we can.
- We do it to model the generosity of our Savior.
- We do it to put the gospel on display in as many places as possible.
- We do it to emulate for our children the giving of time, effort, and bread.
- We do it to feed those who need God’s kindness through the provision of food.
The bread is an example of what “flow-through” means. Someone gives to us and we, in turn, give to others. We’re merely the coupler or the connector that joins the giver (Panera) with the receiver (those in need).
We trust that Panera Bread will give us bread each Friday evening. Panera Bread believes that we will do what we said we would do — give it to others. This concept is analogous to the Christian life.
- You trust God that He will provide for you (Matthew 6:33).
- God believes that you will give away what He gives to you (Luke 6:38).
This worldview is not a romantic Hollywood pay-it-forward notion. This idea is about incarnating the Savior before a dying world who need examples of the practical gospel in action. It is about receiving to give so the name of God can be made famous.
God Loves Generous Givers
The Father is asking you to trust Him by giving your life away. If you believe Him this way, He will bless you — not so you can have more for yourself, but so you will have more to give away. Will you trust Him by sharing what He has given to you?
These promises are not about the prosperity gospel, but about God blessing us so we can bless others. You give a lot. He provides a lot. It’s not about personal gain. You are the coupler, the “flow-through principle.” What are you giving away?
- Your time, money, wisdom, care, joy?
- What are you exporting to others, to your spouse, to your children, to your church, to your neighborhood, to your world?
God gives to generous givers so they will have more to export to others. Christians are in the import/export business. We receive it so we can give it to others. This worldview has always been the case in God’s mind.
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. — Deuteronomy 16:17
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. — Proverbs 3:9–10
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. — Proverbs 11:24
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. — Proverbs 22:9
Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. — Proverbs 28:27
Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. — Malachi 3:10
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. — Luke 6:38
He blesses generosity by personally enriching you so you can meet the needs of others so they will glorify Him. Test yourself on this matter.
- Do you give generously?
- Do you give willingly?
- Do you give cheerfully?
- Do you give carefully?
- Do you give in a premeditative way?
Do Not Be Anxious: It’s the Gospel
Did you know that God cares more about you than about birds (Matthew 6:26)? No, really, did you know this? If so, let me ask you this question:
- Do you become anxious about giving?
- Is there a low-level fear-factor going on in your heart when it comes to giving?
If so, you may be aware that God cares more about you than birds, but you don’t believe it at the functional level of your thinking. It is one thing to know something, but another thing to practice it. Bible knowledge only has value when it becomes a practice in our lives primarily.
Will you trust God in the matter of giving yourself and your things away for the glory of His name? Don’t be anxious about your life. God cares more for you than the birds that fly over your head. Live like sons and daughters of your heavenly Father. Trust Him. It is through your giving that God is glorified. Let me ask you this: What is your first thought when it comes to giving?
- What will it cost me?
- How will it help others?
If you’re thinking like a gospelized-individual, your eye is on what your giving will do, not what it will cost. As far as God is concerned, giving is not about the thing offered, but about helping people in need. Giving is the most explicit way we can model the gospel in our lives, and when we do this, you are putting God on display.
And You Benefit, Too
In Philippians, we learn about a man who gave His all for the good of others, and in the end, He was highly exalted because of His generous giving.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. — Philippians 2:9–11
Quite simply, this is how the gospel works. I’ve already shared Luke 6:38: “For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” But you say, “I don’t give to get.”
That’s fine, but that does not stop God from blessing you for your generosity toward others. You might not jump into the air just so you can come back down to the ground, but that does not matter. If you jump into the air, you will return to earth. It’s a law. If you give, you will receive. It is a promise from God.
I’m glad that you’re trying to be humble about your generosity, but the fact remains that God loves a generous giver and if you are liberal in your giving, expect the love of God to shower you.
This response from the Lord is how it works. One of the sadder commentaries about selfish people is that they spend their entire lives trying to satisfy themselves and never come to understand this Bible truth: if you give, you will get.
I tell selfish husbands this regularly. I try to explain to them that if they would give kindness, communication, love, affection, repentance, confession, forgiveness, or the other cheek to their wives, that they will get what they want. (And the same applies for wives.)
What do they want? They want a loving wife who respects them. It’s as easy as pie: you give, and it will return to you. (And if she does not give, the Lord will bless you because you’re honoring Him regardless of how she responds.) It’s not complicated folks. Trust God. Give your life away and watch God bless you in ways that you could have never imagined, even if the “return” is different from what you expected.
Plan to Receive from God
If your motive is to give your life away, you will be a happy person. If your motivation is to get, you will never be satisfied. The gospel is not unidirectional, as though all you do is give. The generous giver is lavished upon by the Lord — the giver becomes a receiver by default. But you must remember the order: you give first and then you receive.
Christ gave and then He received. Two people were blessed — Christ and others, but the divine order was to provide something before you benefit from the Lord’s favor. I like the way Paul said it in Philippians. Other than Christ, he was one of the most outrageous and generous givers in the Bible.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:11–13
The secret to happiness is to give your life away. The secret to misery is to hoard what was given to you, while seeking more ways to gain more, for self-serving and self-promoting purposes.
You will be more blessed if you choose to give as the first call to action, rather than wanting to receive (Acts 20:35). The reason for this is because God loves a generous giver. In what ways do you need to be more generous in your giving?
- Do you need to give more money away?
- Do you need to give more time away?
- Do you need to give more repentance away?
- Do you need to give more forgiveness away?
- Do you need to give more wisdom away?
- Do you need to give more (fill in the blank)?
What is it that you are holding onto because you’re afraid to let it go? Whatever that is, I appeal to you to become a cheerful giver. Lay it down for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Do you want to be happy? There is only one way: you must give up your life in the specific way in which God is speaking to you right now.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. — Mark 10:45
Why are you living? What is your purpose in life? Do you wanna be happy? The gospelized individual is here to serve others. Blessed is the man who chooses to give his life away generously.
Originally published at Rick Thomas.