7 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.
I love to give gifts to my granddaughter. She is my joy. And I always get back more than I give.
In fact, it thrills me to give to the people I love. However, I’m less enthusiastic about giving to others. That’s not to say I don’t willingly give to others, it’s just not accompanied by the same enthusiasm and joy as for the ones closest to me.
So when Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver,” I can relate. But I can also question the spirit in which I give outside my inner circle of family and friends.
As a Baptist pastor, I frequently preached messages on giving, and of course, touted the Old Testament mandate to tithe. However, I believe God’s design for New Testament giving is the better way.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give.” Giving is to be heartfelt. Nobody’s twisting your arm. You’re not being guilted or pushed to give anything you don’t genuinely want to give. Your motivation comes from within. You see the need, grasp the importance of it, and you are moved to do your part to help.
Let’s call it heart-giving. And the kind of heart-giving that God loves is “cheerful” giving. The Greek word for cheerful can also be translated “hilarious.” It’s the kind of giving that produces great joy. It gives happiness as an instant return on your investment.
So how do you reach that point of joyous generosity? First, it must begin in your heart. And if your heart is cold toward the needs of others, then it’s time to seek God’s forgiveness and His help in changing your heart. Ask Him to give you compassion and empathy for the plight of others. Ask Him to show you ways you can help.
Now, giving is not only a matter of giving money or material possessions. It can be time working as a volunteer in your church or in a worthy community project. What are your talents and abilities? Consider ways you can use them to help others.
Within Paul’s instruction, he tells us we should not give reluctantly or under compulsion. We understand what it means to be under compulsion. It’s sort of like paying your taxes. I have never met a cheerful tax giver. It’s the law. We willingly obey but question how our money is used.
But reluctant giving is another matter. If you are generally a willing and cheerful giver, you should pause at that reluctance and consider if God is raising a flag of warning. There are people, scammers, who prey on our generous nature.
A few days ago, I stopped by the grocery store to buy bananas. That was it. Quick in. Quick out. In the produce section, I was greeted by a troubled woman who told me she had run out of gas, couldn’t make it back home to Jasper (72 miles away), and she was hungry and had no money to buy food for her family. Oh, yeah. The reason she was penniless was because somebody had stolen her purse at Walmart.
The warning flag of reluctance immediately went up. Just so you know, that’s a common scam. It starts in a public place, a person is stranded and desperately needs to get home. And home is always too far away for you to drive them there. It’s an urgent matter usually involving children or a sick parent.
So that feeling of reluctance can be a good thing when you are indeed a cheerful giver.
How does giving make you feel? Does it make you happy?
In a previous devotional, I used the illustration of buyer’s remorse. You know, that feeling you get when you buy something and then wish you hadn’t. There’s also such a thing as giver’s remorse. If that happens to you, then you aren’t the kind of giver God loves. God loves a cheerful giver. And if this is a problem area for you, then just like in all other spiritual deficiencies, take it to the Lord. “Father, I want to be a cheerful giver because I know it pleases you.”
For more on this topic, check out this article: You Really Can’t Out-give God
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.