“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).
My two-year-old daughter examined the chocolate doughnut hole for a moment before taking a bite. Her face lit up instantly, and in her excitement she began to jump up and down. This was her first taste of what would become a favourite treat. As the giver of this tiny gift, I was delighted at my daughter’s reaction. But before taking another bite, she broke off a piece and held it up to me. “Daddy, for you,” she said, grinning from ear to ear.
As anyone who’s eaten a doughnut hole knows, there’s not a lot to them, and yet here I was being offered a generous portion of the little that remained. What else could I do? I took it and ate it, and both of us were delighted to be sharing these “hole”-hearted gifts.
The value of this special moment had very little to do with the gift itself and far more with the posture of our hearts toward each other. This even seemed like a small picture of how God has shown generosity to me and how I am meant to respond. Let’s call this “wholehearted giving.”
In I Chronicles 29, we find a similar giving story, but on a much grander scale. Having experienced God’s provision and protection of his people, David the king invited the families and the leaders of Israel to give willingly towards building a temple for God. Far more treasures were given than could possibly be used. When they heard the results, “the people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and King David was filled with joy.” I love this picture of wholehearted giving; surely this is the kind of generosity that God intended for each one of us to experience.
David then praised the Lord, saying, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us” (I Chronicles 29:9,14). David recognized God as the ultimate giver, and it filled him with joy to give the way God gives.
When we consider the way David and the people gave to God, and especially the way God gives to us, we discover several hallmarks of wholehearted giving:
- It is motivated by love. Throughout the story of the plans for the temple, David speaks of his devotion to God from whom all wealth and honour come.
- It is done freely; no obligations, no strings attached. David repeats the people’s observation that their gifts were given freely and willingly.
- It is done with joy. David’s prayer in this text is full of praise to God following the expression of the people’s rejoicing.
Like I experienced with my daughter’s simple gesture, have you felt the joys of wholehearted giving lately? If you find yourself giving out of obligation, guilt or fear, or not giving at all, it might be time to examine your heart. Before David invites offerings for the temple, he says to his son Solomon: “Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (I Chronicles 28:9).
You don’t want to miss out on the fun of wholehearted giving! Mennonite Foundation of Canada has resources and staff who can help you design your own Wholehearted Giving Plan that makes giving to the charities you love simple, strategic and fun. We offer tools that facilitate your giving plan throughout your life and beyond.
Daniel Lichty is a stewardship consultant at Mennonite Foundation of Canada, serving generous people in British Columbia. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit MennoFoundation.ca.