God loves a cheerful giver, 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us.
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.
2 Corinthians 9:7
What does it mean to “give cheerfully?” And why does God want us to give cheerfully?
First, let’s examine the purpose of giving.
God wants us to give not because he needs our money — everything in the world is his, anyway. He wants us to give for a variety of reasons that make us more like the people he intended us to be.
Reasons for giving
- Giving glorifies God. The most important reason to give is that it glorifies God. In all that we do on this planet, it should be to bring glory to his name. Tithing — giving the first ten percent of our income — contributes to the Lord’s work.
- Giving shows our hearts are with God. Matthew 6:24 says: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” If we love our money more than God, it’ll show when we refuse to give.
- Giving blesses others. When we give our money — or our time, for that matter, which is ultimately more valuable — it can be a tremendous blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ who may sorely need it more than we do. We are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves and to serve each other.
- Giving blesses us. In Malachi 3:10, the Lord says to test him by tithing and see if he does not pour blessings down upon us. Luke 6:38 says: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I want to address that last point, though, because if not careful, it can be misconstrued.
The purpose of giving is not to get back in return. We shouldn’t give for the express purpose of getting God’s blessing. Rather, the verses in the Bible that say we will be blessed by giving serve more as a reminder that God’s blessings extend well beyond money and in many different formats.
As humans, we have a natural tendency to hold on to what we have and not let go of it without replacing the void it would create. If we give something, we have a natural inclination to want to get something back in return.
- When we give a gift to someone, are we not naturally inclined to expect a “thank you” in return?
- When we give advice to someone, are we not disappointed if they ignore it or disagree with it?
- When we give our precious time to someone, are we not frustrated if we feel it is wasted by them?
All of these instances are examples of how we are expecting something in return for giving something. And they aren’t really in accordance with what it means to be a cheerful giver.
One other example of us expecting something in return is when we give our time or money with the hopes of receiving acknowledgement or kudos for the gesture.
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Giving is its own reward, and God wants us to give selflessly and sacrificially, not pompously and with great expectation.
Matthew 6 continues as follows:
(2) So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
(3) But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
(4) so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
It’s often challenging for us to give because we know the hard work and effort we exerted to attain what we have. Nobody wants that effort to go to waste.
But giving is never wasteful. The wealth that we build here on earth pales in comparison to the wealth we build in heaven by giving and living in God’s ways.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So, what does it mean to “give cheerfully?” It simply means don’t give out of a sense of obligation, that you must do it or else God will strike you down. Don’t give with clenched fists or some sense of reluctancy. This doesn’t demonstrate cheerful giving, but instead exemplifies someone whose heart lies with money instead of God.