God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7) is addressing the idea of us giving money to meet the needs of those around us. The Bible has lots to say about the generous heart and about money. But this month as I reflect on the word “Give” it isn’t money that I’m thinking about. Yes I need to continually be alert for needs that our money can meet but I have more than money at my disposal.
I have many resources God has given me: There is money, but there is also time, energy, my house, my skills and talents, my knowledge, my love. All of these things have been given to me, by God and I believe they are to be used – to be given back to others – to meet needs.
But this particular verse – God loves a cheerful giver – addresses my attitude; how am I going to give to others. God loves a cheerful giver.
Looking into the Strongs concordance, there are two aspects to this word “cheerful”
Joyful isn’t about being happy – happy is an emotion that is dependent on circumstances. Joy though comes from a deep seated peace and contentment. Giving joyously comes from knowing that Jesus has given to me – he has given me life both eternal and here on this earth. He has given me all that I need. He can even help me be joyful and willing!
Giving cheerfully is a challenge when it isn’t something that comes from a state of happy. It is easy to give to people when they are being loving, and kind, and giving to you. But I think the prompt here is – regardless of what others are doing, for me to still give joyfully and willingly.
Actually, if I’m giving to meet a need – it is probably going to be someone who isn’t necessarily in a place where they can give to me. They are in need.
What needs do I see around me that I could give joyously and willingly?
- When someone speaks grumpily at me, I can speak patiently and gently back
- When someone needs to chat, I can set aside my to-do and give them a listening ear
- When someone is struggling with a project, I can help them
- When someone is having a bad day I can be with them
Let’s look at the flip side: According to this verse, I’m not to be someone who gives reluctantly or under compulsion.
Why would I be reluctant? A bad attitude would make me reluctant: Selfishness, Mistrust, False expectations. These attitudes are actually all about me – I deserve better than this, I’ve been generous and look how they’ve treated me! To be a cheerful giver (joyous and willing) I need to have my eyes on Jesus. It is what Jesus has done for me, not what others do to me. Meeting people’s needs, giving cheerfully, is about showing Jesus’ love to others, not necessarily mine.
That is an interesting idea – can I show Jesus’ love to a person that I don’t like, don’t trust, a person who has hurt me? Can I give to their needs – cheerfully – because Jesus loved me before I was his friend; while I was yet a sinner (an enemy of God).
Another reason I would be reluctant would be exhaustion – there are times when I become the person in need, and I just can’t give any more. I don’t believe God ignores this – and he will care for me, lift me up and encourage me, but in the midst of my exhaustion can I let God use me? When I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:10) – do I believe it?
The other word mentioned in this verse is compulsion. Who puts the pressure on me to feel any compulsion? As a Christian the church and its programmes can put expectations on me. My reputation can lead people to put expectations on me – Belinda always does it, so she’ll do it again. But I think the biggest pressure comes from myself: habit and expectations. Can I trust God to prompt me to give, and not to expect myself to just give indiscriminately? This requires me to listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit – it requires me to know God’s heart and to walk in step with the spirit.
This verse about being a cheerful giver continues with: verse 8 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
I will only be able to give – joyously and willingly – when I depend on God. He is able to give me the patience, the love, the hope, the forgiveness, the trust to give to others who are in need.