Cheerfulness is one of the evidences we have attached faith to our decisions.
2 Corinthians 9 is a strong chapter about the attitudes and benefits of financial giving. It reveals incredible promises. We will:
- Reap generously if we sow generously
- Have all grace abounding to us
- Experience all-sufficiency
- Be enriched in every way to be generous in every way
The middle of 2 Corinthians 9 (verse 7) contains a giving verse with principles that can radically impact every part of our lives.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Let’s break this verse down phrase by phrase:
Each one – Each person is free to decide what they do and don’t do. Yes, the Bible gives clear direction on many issues, but there are also many things we get to decide, about which others will decide something different. (We get to respect others’ decision making that is different from our own.)
- Must give as he has decided in his heart – Again, we get to decide how much to give in finances, time, energy, and relationships. This is an incredible revelation as we move from a slave mentality to a son mentality. Slaves are always waiting for a command from God or from others to know what to do, but sons are given increasing authority to decide for themselves through good decision-making processes. Our good Father models excellent decision making for us, then gives us room to try for ourselves. He enthusiastically celebrates when we choose well!
- Not reluctantly or under compulsion – If we have these attitudes towards what we give ourselves to, they reveal one of two problems – we are either doing the wrong thing or we are doing the right thing with the wrong beliefs. “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). A dead work is Christian “obedience” done consistently in a reluctant manner or under compulsion. Repentance from this is one of the elementary doctrines of Christ.
- For God loves a cheerful giver – The Greek word for cheerful is hilaros, from which we get our word hilarious (boisterous merriment). Cheerfulness is one of the evidences we have attached faith to our decisions. God loves a cheerful giver because that kind of person gives from their heart in faith. As they give, they think, “This is exciting. I have decided to do this. This is going to have a huge positive impact on me and others.” Note: many churches do offering readings before the offering to stir up this cheerfulness.
Again, the principles of 2 Corinthians 9:8 are applicable far beyond finances, and we can rightly conclude that God loves a cheerful decider. A chronic lack of cheerfulness in our disciplines, our schedule, or our responsibilities is most likely a sign we have decided out of obligation instead of faith. If this has happened to you, then I suggest doing this:
- Clarify and re-clarify what you are to do – This is the key to living in faith concerning what we have decided to do.
- Speak life over your commitments – “My meetings today are going to be powerful,” or “God is going to show up in my family tonight when I get home,” or “This coffee date with my friend will cause breakthrough for both of us.”
- Press into your beliefs until cheerfulness manifests consistently regarding the choices you have made – This may take a while, but the journey is incredible in going deeper in defeating the lies that create a lack of cheerfulness in giving our time, finances, and energy.
God loves a cheerful decider! Let’s go for it and be that today and for the rest of our lives.
For more on this, please read my blog Six Traits of Dynamic Decision Makers.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.