The first principle in giving that the Christian must understand is that giving must be done through a purposeful heart. 2 Corinthians 9:7 makes this clear, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Did you notice that Paul says each one must do as he has purposed? This means that you need to actually think about and plan your offering.
I believe it is quite common for the Christian to see the offering plate coming and begin scrambling to see what he has left over in his wallet. He may find a five or a twenty that he believes he can spare, so he drops it in the plate. This is an unbiblical way to give. The biblical giver will plan ahead of time what he wants to give and then comes prepared to give it. This ensures that you are not giving what is left-over to the work of the ministry, but you are intentionally giving with a purpose.
My family and I have tried to budget our money for about a year and a half now. Before each month begins, we list all of our expected income for the next month. Then, we list all of our expected expenses: house payment, electric bill, water, groceries. But at the top of our expense list, we put our offering. We plan a month ahead of time what we are going to give. My wife often goes ahead and writes out the check and that money is now designated with a purpose. It is going for the work of the ministry.
Let me encourage you to set aside your money that you will give as an offering first. There is no such thing as not having it to give. If it is your first priority, you will make sure that your offering is ready to give even before you pay your cable, go out to eat or spend money on your hobby. I encourage you to do this in your estate planning and your will as well. Christians too often neglect the church and the work of the ministry when they consider giving their inheritance.
When the Christian purposes and plans in his heart to give, the result is that he becomes a cheerful giver. The biblical Christian simply cannot wait until he gets an opportunity to give and contribute to the work of the ministry. He is excited to give with a goal of seeing the gospel of Jesus Christ spread among the nations. He can hardly contain himself when he realizes that his offering will go for the work of the kingdom. The purposeful giver is a cheerful giver.
Then, the response that God gives toward a cheerful giver is remarkable. The Bible says that God “loves a cheerful giver”. Think about how significant that is. Out of all the things, personality traits, characteristics, or services Paul could have mentioned, he mentions that it is purposeful and cheerful giving that stirs God’s heart. God loves a cheerful giver. Do you cheerfully give?