Beth Hughes, a stay-at-home mother in Oklahoma, was about to pay the grocery store cashier for food for her family's Thanksgiving dinner last November when a customer tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Ma'am, I'm going to pay for your groceries."

The woman stepped in and swiped her credit card, paying the $214 grocery bill, and then left, according to KJRH-TV. Hughes said she was so shocked that she can't remember if she said thank you. She shared the story on Facebook and said her friends said they were encouraged to do the same thing.

In 2nd Corinthians chapter 8, Paul writes about God’s grace -- His unmerited favor -- for the Macedonian believers. Because of God’s grace they wanted to give and provide for the church in Palestine and for the ministry that Paul was involved in. The gift that was gathered was coming to Paul and the other believers through the blessing of the Macedonian churches. They were giving from their poverty -- from an empathy with the people in Jerusalem. They understood hard times, they knew what it was like to go hungry and now, even though they didn’t have much, they gave what they could. Paul writes that their joy is “overflowing” and even through their extreme poverty they were outrageously generous! They gave because of God’s grace to them.

Our motive for giving matters! The only true motive for giving is the grace of God, the goodness of God to you. If God hasn’t done anything for you, then, for goodness sake, don’t give him a dime. Everything we have comes from God — we are encouraged to give from that same measure.

Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I heard of a man who was asked to give to an offering and he said, "Well, I think I could give $10 and not feel it." The usher said, "Why don't you give $20 and feel it?"

It is only when we feel it that the blessing of giving comes. The Macedonians gave beyond their means. They dug deep, and they asked for the privilege of doing so. That is the amazing example; one of the greatest marks that a heart has truly been touched by the grace of God is that it counts giving as a privilege.

Paul is challenging the Corinthian church along with us too, to give; not because it’s a rule, not because there is a great need, but because of the grace we have received from Jesus Christ. We give, because He gave first! Here are four principles, borrowed from Chuck Swindoll, that will help us keep our hearts soft and responsive to the Lord with hilarious generosity.

  1. Reflect on God’s numerous gifts to you. Our attitude toward giving cannot help becoming more gracious and joyful as we consider where we would be apart from God’s generous gift of grace in Christ!
  2. Remind yourself of His promise to reward generosity. Like everything else in the Christian life, giving to the Lord becomes an issue of faith — believing that God will do as says He will do for anyone who trusts Him and obeys His Word. The Lord loves those who give cheerfully and promises to bless all who freely give with hearts of gladness and joy.
  3. Ask some probing questions as you think: “what is the value of generosity. Evaluation proves to be a healthy exercise for ensuring we are staying on top of our giving and maintaining the proper attitude toward the Lord. For example, we might ask ourselves such questions as: Am I becoming more or less generous as I grow older? Does my giving match God’s blessing in my life? Have I prayed about the level of my giving, or is my giving all impulsive?
  4. Change whatever keeps you from being a generous follower of Jesus. The ideal model of hilarious generosity is Jesus! In fact, the generosity of Jesus is what brings people to repentance and into a right relationship with God (Romans 2:4)! Because of His generosity in giving Himself, we can experience the joy of giving everything to Him in worship and in faith.

“God loves a cheerful giver,” the month of November is a time of Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on the goodness of God and His gifts to us. It is a time to give back and experience hilarious generosity! May God bless you as you bless others with hilarious generosity this season of Thanksgiving.

Colleen Hoeft is pastor of South Troy Wesleyan Church in Zumbro Falls. Pulpit is a weekly reflection on faith by an area pastor or religious leader. To contribute, contact Editor Jeff Pieters at 285-7748 or life@postbulletin.com.

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