The Bible says we are not to give “grudgingly or of necessity” but we are to give cheerfully, for “God loveth a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:6)
A man at church once said, “Pastor, the Bible says I’m to give cheerfully.”
“That’s right,” the pastor said.
“Now Pastor, I don’t know if you know it or not, but I don’t give cheerfully.”
The pastor said, “You don’t?”
“No, I don’t. So, therefore I’m not obeying the Bible when I give my money, am I?” he asked.
“Well, that’s right, you’re not,” the pastor answered.
Then he said, “So, therefore I don’t have to give my money anymore!”
"No, that’s not what it means. It means you have to ask God to forgive you for your attitude, and then give. It’s both—give and give cheerfully."
True story about Scrooge (me) buying his wife a ring!
Nancy and I were visiting a friend’s house, and his wife was showing my wife the new ring her husband had bought her. My wife said to me, “Isn’t it pretty?”
I was stingy with “my” money and wasn’t interested. I replied, “Yeah, it’s okay,” and I thought that would be the last of it. A few days later we were in a mall, and I couldn't find my wife. I looked around and saw her in one of those corner jewelry shops (the corner shops in malls cost the most to rent, and those who sell jewelry are usually there). Now, I don’t need to tell you it got my attention to see her in that store. I walked right up to her and said, “What’s the matter?” “Nothing,” she replied, “I was just looking at this ring. Isn’t it pretty?” I was supposed to say, “Oh yeah, that’s beautiful,” but of course I didn’t.
She was looking through the glass at this little ruby ring, and I was looking through the glass at the little piece of paper next to the ring (price tag). It’s disgusting how much they want for those little stones! For the same amount of money, I could have bought four new tires for my car. Have you ever thought about the fact that rings don’t do anything? I understand a wedding ring—at least it serves the purpose of telling others you’re married—but every other ring just sits there on your wif's’s finger, doing nothing.
“You want to buy that?” I said, rather loudly.
“No, I just thought it was pretty.” And she added, “I don’t need to buy it, or anything.”
“Good. Let’s go!"
I got out of there as quickly as I could. I wanted to put some distance between me and that ring. But my wife was not in a hurry. She was about ten paces behind me and was 'moping'. When I saw how she looked, I thought, “I’ve got to buy her that stupid ring. She won’t be happy unless I buy her a ring.” I spent the next two weeks coming up with some extra money so I could get her a ring. Oh, I bought it at a pawnshop...
I thought, “Okay, I’m going to get her the ring, but I am going to let her know how I feel about it!” Did you ever receive something nice, but you did not like how it was given to you? Well, that’s what happened to Nancy. I came home one evening and she was all sweet, because she knew from the tone of my voice I was not a happy camper. I feel guilty telling you this story, but, well, here is what happened.
I hollered from the front door to find her, “Hey, I’m home. Remember the ring you wanted? Well, here it is.” I actually dropped it on the table… She ended up wearing it just to keep peace in the house. The point is that I gave, but not the right way.
Thankfully, I have learned some things. The reason a wife looks at the ring that “sits” on her finger is not to count the monetary value of it, but because it represents a token of her husband’s love. But every time Nancy looked at her ring, she probably saw me bouncing it off the table. Ouch!
I’m sorry to say, a few years passed before I realized what I had done. It was while visiting churches on our second furlough that God got a hold of my heart about this. I was driving my car and listening to a cassette tape someone had given me. The entire message was about a preacher buying his wife a ring, and it was forty-five minutes long! I was convicted by it, and I wanted to turn it off, but I thought, “This message doesn’t bother me.” I must have been driving slowly, because cars were swerving around me and a couple of drivers honked their horns at me.
The preacher went into all this detail about buying his wife a ring. He talked about how he finally found the right stone, but the setting was wrong, so he actually asked the jeweler if he would take the stone off the ring, and he was even willing to pay him the full price to get it done! I was listening to this and thinking, “Just buy her a ring and get it over with!” This preacher then drove to another state where he remembered seeing a setting he liked. When the preacher showed the jeweler the stone he had bought in another state and asked him if he would be willing to place the stone on a ring in his store, the jeweler said, “She must be some special lady.”
“Yes, she is,” the preacher said, and added, “I wanted it to be something special, because she will wear it the rest of her life.”
That’s when I said out loud, “I’m sorry.” I was alone in my car, just me, the cassette, and the Lord, Who was convicting me.
I spent the next six weeks looking for a new ring for my wife, and I hate shopping! My idea of a “good time” of shopping is to see how fast I can find what I want and get out. “Find it, buy it, bag it, and leave.” But now I was actually enjoying searching for just the right ring for my wife. I found what I wanted in five weeks, but I waited another week to give it to her because our anniversary was coming up. It was all I could do to wait that last week.
Attitude made the difference.
A week before our anniversary, Nancy had pointed to the calendar and said, “Oh look, next week is our anniversary.”
“Hum, how about that,” I said. She didn’t want me to forget, of course, but I thought, “She won’t be expecting what I bought her!”
When our anniversary came, she said she wanted to go out for Mexican food, so I took her to Taco Bell. Someone said, “You took your wife to Taco Bell on your anniversary?” So? Anyway, I sat down at our table at the “restaurant” before she did, and I placed the gift on the table across from me.
When she saw the small gift, she said, “This is for me?”
“Yes!” I’m smiling, I’m happy, and she was smiling, not knowing what to expect.
“Oh, you shouldn’t have,” she said.
“Uh-huh …” I said.
It was funny, because when she unwrapped the box and looked at the ring, she first said, “Wow!” But she kept looking at the ring, and then her expression and voice changed to a more serious one, and she looked at me and said, “Is this real?”
I was laughing and said, “Yes!” It’s strange, but giving her the ring made me appreciate her more. The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” She then stood up right in front of everybody at Taco Bell and reached across the table, pulled my face toward her, and started kissing me all over my face—with everybody watching! I guess I should take back what I said about rings not doing anything! At any rate, I now know that God and my wife both “love a cheerful giver.”