Regeneration. In Christian circles, that’s a ten-dollar word that refers to the spiritual transformation of a person, brought about by the Holy Spirit, which changes that person from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. It is another way of referring to the second birth or being born again (John 3:3), which, according to Jesus, is a requirement to get into heaven (John 3:7). It’s part of becoming a Christian, as evidenced by becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17); God is in the business of restoring people spiritually. So if Christians are new people, how should that affect their finances?
One area is our generosity. Christians should be giving people. If we are truly focused on Christ and all He gave for us to inherit eternal life (His life), then giving of ourselves becomes less of a burden. I remember when I was first ushered into His kingdom, when I became a Christian, I was aglow with new love for Christ. When I first heard of His command to give a tithe (a tenth) of my income to support the work of the church (Mal.3:10), I freely gave it because my Lord commanded it. To love Christ is to love His commands and do what He asks (John 14:15)—so when He says, “Give,” we say, “How much?” We give because we love the Lord and we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We give because He gave Himself first. That’s the pattern. This kind of giving, filled with affection for Christ, is the very essence of being a cheerful giver, which God says He loves (2 Cor.9:7).
When I first became a Christian, I was the very definition of a cheerful giver. If you looked up the meaning of the term in a commentary on 2 Corinthians, there would’ve been a picture of my face next to the explanation: to be a cheerful giver means to give like this guy. However, what about now? I have to confess that I don’t always give so cheerfully now. Sometimes I give out of routine—and with the invention of electronic giving, many times my giving is completely devoid of any love for Him.
So what has happened? Did He change His command to give? Did His fatal sacrifice on my behalf change? Has His affection toward cheerful givers changed? No, nothing on God’s part has changed. The change is all mine. My focus on Christ has changed. My love for Him has waned. The glow of my first love has dimmed. If you’re like me and find yourself challenged at times by your giving, don’t question your finances or look to your budget; question your love.
Lord, give us grace to repent and return to our first love where giving was a delight in light of Your sacrifice for us. Help us to value You above all else.