God loves a cheerful giver.
Chances are you’ve heard that phrase from your pastor, or maybe from your momma or grandmother. We often share that verse with children when we teach them about stewardship. Well, last week I assume God was extremely pleased, and I was pleasantly surprised. No, actually I was pleasantly shocked.
It was my great pleasure to announce at the spring meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board that an unbelievably generous Tennessee Baptist gave nearly $1.6 million dollars to establish the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions Endowment. For years to come, approximately $50,000-plus in annual interest will funnel into the GOTM and be used for a variety of ministry opportunities.
And that’s important to catch. Every penny generated through this newly established endowment, and every penny given through GOTM in general, financially undergirds the Great Commission work in Tennessee of church planting and revitalization, compassion ministry, next generation leader development, camps for children and students, Baptist Collegiate Ministry and so much more. Not one dime is utilized for personnel support or administrative cost.
A tremendous “Thank you” goes out to this generous Tennessee Baptist. But you know what? A huge thanks also goes to every Tennessee Baptist who has generously given through GOTM, even if it is “a widow’s mite.” Generosity is not measured by dollar amounts; it is measured by an attitude of the heart.
God does love a cheerful giver but do not miss the larger context of the entire 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 passage. Verse 6 speaks to liberal generosity, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Paul then ties liberal generosity to motivation. “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity.” In other words, generosity fueled by a Christ-centered attitude pleases God.
I can tell you this: Tennessee Baptists are a generous people.
Listen, I’ve been saying for a while now that any way you slice it Tennessee is a missions field. I believe people haven’t just heard that, they’ve looked around – beyond the walls of their churches – and seen for themselves the fields white unto harvest. They’ve given not only out of a sense of worshiping the Lord and serving Him, but they’ve recognized that giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions is an opportunity to reach across our state to see people saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship.
I believe Tennessee Baptists have a vision for seeing our state transformed for the glory of God and are emphatically saying through their giving that they want to be a part of seeing that vision become a reality. The proof is in the pudding. Our state missions offering has grown more than 15 percent in the past three years.
Here is the beauty of working together. Not everybody can give million dollar gifts – few people can – but we can all give according to the Lord’s leading, regardless of amount. And just like with the Cooperative Program, we really can do more together to reach our state and the nations for Christ than we can do apart. So I am grateful for all cheerful givers.
It is truly a joy to be on this journey with you.