Recapture Cheerful Giving

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Recapture Cheerful Giving

Posted on 25 Mar 2024

An excerpt taken from ‘What the Bible Actually Says About Money’ by Scott Morton, International Coach at The Navigators.

The book is available on Amazon


Each one must do just as he has proposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  

— 2 Corinthians 9:7 (emphasis added)


You know this verse—"God loves a cheerful giver.” Cheerful is hilaros—hilarious in English. But here’s reality: Though most believers are not joyless givers, they’re not joyful givers either. They give with the same excitement as paying a parking fine.

And with electronic giving replacing the offering basket or writing checks, givers become emotionally detached—they can’t remember what they support. And if one spouse handles the finances it’s even worse. They are not joyless—just neutral.

How to recapture the joy of cheerful giving? Three guidelines from today’s passage.

1. Purposed in His Heart

Implies choosing deliberately—the decision is yours. In his heart implies that giving decisions are not purely academic. When God commanded Israel to build a tabernacle in the desert, He said:


“Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him…”

— Exodus 25:2 (emphasis added)

Recently, I “felt” I should send $40 to a friend whose wife had just been diagnosed with cancer. This $40 was above and beyond our giving plan—a decision of the heart. “Go out for lunch,” I said in my note. They loved it.

2. Not Grudgingly

The Greek ek lupe means “out of sorrow”—reluctantly. Giving reluctantly is like having a tearful bon voyage party for each dollar you sadly pull out of your wallet.

Was Paul thinking of Deuteronomy 15:10 where the Jews were commanded to give to the poor:


“Your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him….”

3. [Not] Under Compulsion

Many believers feel obligated to give a certain percentage of their income; without realizing it, they give under compulsion.

A generous believer was frustrated: “I get tons of appeals—missionaries needing support, the teen pregnancy center is building an addition and Sunday at church. It’s never ending.” Because he was generous, he got even more appeals, and he couldn’t say no. As a result, he supported many causes with token amounts. But he felt obligated and was becoming resentful.

You don’t “have to give” to every appeal. “No” is a complete sentence.

This is also a reminder for ministry leaders. Are you subtly coercing people to give?

Saying things like, “Christians spend more on dog food than they give to missions.” Or, “You need to give back to the church considering all the church has done for you.” And so on.

A missionary asked a giving partner to increase his support, saying apologetically, “You probably get ‘hit-up’ a lot.” The partner said, “I don’t have a ton of money, but I love being asked. It shows me good things are going on for God. I feel free to say yes or no.”

Joyful giving is captured in a classic story about British author Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). When Carlyle was a boy, a beggar came to his house while his parents were gone: 

“On a boyish impulse [Carlyle] broke into his own savings-bank and gave the beggar all that was in it, and he tells us that never before or since did he know such sheer happiness as came to him in that moment.”

How about you? What describes your giving?
• Joyless, resentful

• Grudging, obligated—not sure why
• Neutral, detached

• Neglectful, don’t think about it

• Guilty

• Cheerful

Theologically speaking, God loves resentful and neutral givers too, but wouldn’t you like to recapture the simple joy of giving like young Thomas Carlyle? Slow down and ask: In my heart of hearts, to what do I desire to give? To whom do I desire to give?

Prayer: Father in Heaven, I don’t think I’m joyless in my giving, but I’m often neutral or neglectful. Giving is not daily on my mind. Help me to be more attentive in my giving. I choose now to give with cheerfulness.