God's Character

If being a cheerful giver makes God happy, why do we treat it like a chore

There is no shortage of Christians around us who need help, whether in the church, our families, friends, complete strangers, etc…, but why is this, and why we are we not doing everything we possibly can to help them–are we even aware how charity affects our relationship with God?

God Loves A Reluctant Cheerful Giver

It is no secret giving to others can sometimes feel more like a chore, or an obligation, than something we look forward to

However, to understand how God looks at giving, let us look at the familiar passage where Paul talks about how important our state of mind is when giving to others:

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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

Even though this verse is so common, I looked up the word “cheerful”, and saw that “cheerful” in Greek means “cheerful, joyous, prompt”, which is pretty much how we translate it

Okay, sure, we have probably heard this verse quoted by our pastors on Sunday mornings, and have probably thought something like “Yes, I am supposed to give with a joyful heart, I get it”, however, reading this verse that way completely misses Paul’s point!


Be very careful in reading this verse, as it says something so incredibly amazing it is difficult to pick up at first: “God *loves* a cheerful giver”

Whoa, that is amazing, as Paul was not simply saying we should put a smile on our face and open our wallets every Sunday because it is the right thing to do, Paul was openly telling us God’s love for cheerful, sincere, loving givers is increased over those who give for reasons that are insincere, not to mention those who do not give at all

That is not exactly the first thing we think about when we read this verse is it?


Now that the mental dust has settled, think about the implications of this for a moment, as there are not many places in the Bible where we are clearly told we can increase God’s love for us through our actions, but do we really understand how important cheerful giving is in our relationship with God, and why loving one another through giving is so important to him?

Why Does God Feel So Strongly About Cheerful Giving

Out of all of his teachings Jesus told us the most important commands to follow were to love God, and to love one another as he loved us

Mark 12:30-31
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these

John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another

(Look at how Jesus commanded us to love one another, as he openly says “As I have loved you, so you *must* love one another”, this was not optional if we seek to honor him)

However, in order to understand the significance of Jesus’ command to love like he did, we have to understand what his version of “love” actually meant, as his love inspired him to lay down all his authority, power, and glory in heaven in order to humble himself as a man to pay for our sins–Jesus was the ultimate example of selfless, unashamed love expressed through humble sacrifice

John 15:12-13
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends

Philippians 2:5-9
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name

John spoke about this as well, as he not only understood that Jesus lay his life down for us out of love, but taught that we should do the same for others as a reflection of our appreciation for God’s love

How much we love one another through self-sacrifice is a direct reflection of our spiritual maturity

1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers

1 John 2:3-6
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did

In reading these verses, we see that loving one another selflessly like Jesus commanded revolves around honoring others over ourselves, just as Jesus did when he died for us, and that if we claim to know him we “must walk as Jesus did”–not exactly a small statement!

This is something that can seem difficult to grasp at first, as we are raised in a culture that teaches us to seek our own happiness first before we even begin to think of helping others, and then even if we do, we are not encouraged to make sacrifices for the sake of benefiting others, we are taught to give of our excess first

The reality is, we spend an enormous amount of time trying to make ourselves happy, but what if we used even half of that time/energy to take care of other Christians instead, it would change our lives, and the lives of those around us overnight!

In fact, the early church was so focused on the principles of charity, they went so far as to sell their possessions in order to make sure everyone was taken care of, as that is exactly what Jesus commanded us to do

Luke 12:33-34
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

(If we place the highest value on loving the people around us, they will become the very treasures that enrich our lives, and our hearts will be with them)

Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved

Acts 4:32-35
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need

How awesome is that?

Sadly, even though these churches sound amazing, almost every concept in these passages seems foreign to us, as we are not exactly surrounded by believers who have “devoted themselves” to seeking God and spending time with other believers, we do not commonly see miracles, let alone see churches where people sell what they own in order to provide for one another

In fact, it is almost the total opposite, so it is no surprise we do not see miracles or people coming to God every day, as we are not actively loving one another through giving, sacrifice, and fellowship like they were!

If we think about it, we know nothing good happens when we live for ourselves, but are we aware of how living this way can affect our relationship with God?

2 Corinthians 5:15
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again

Wait, If God’s Love For Cheerful Givers Is Great, How Does He Feel About Reluctant Givers Or Those Who Do Not Give At All

(And you thought this was just about cheerful giving, fooled you!)

This next section is going to be tough, so please read this with an open mind, as it will no doubt challenge what some of you believe about God’s personality

Many Christians want to believe God loves us equally regardless of how we act, but that thinking is beyond unscriptural, regardless of whatever feel-good logic people use to support it

For example, many people use rational sounding metaphors to explain how God loves us “uniquely” instead of unequally depending on how we act, or say that he loves us equally but he can be more/less pleased with us based on the choices we make

These ideas may sound nice, but there are no scriptures that support them

Sure, God does not show favoritism when judging sin, and he loved the world enough to send Jesus as a sacrifice, but he definitely has different relationships with people he holds in higher esteem because they obey, and respect him

Psalm 103:11
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him

John 14:21
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him

(Note how Jesus says our active obedience increases God’s love for us!)

These verses are clear about how our actions have an impact on God’s love for us, but for the sake of exploring the discussion fully, let us look again at the cheerful giver verse:

2 Corinthians 9:7
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver

Just for a moment, let us say we accept the idea that God loves us equally no matter how we live, can you imagine Paul re-writing the verse above to say something like:

2 Corinthians 9:7
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver, but since he loves everyone equally anyway, it does not really make a difference one way or the other

Um, okay, if Paul thought that, this passage would make no sense at all!

To make this point even more clear, the Greek word for “love” Paul uses in reference to cheerful givers, is the same word Jesus used when he said those who obey his commands will be loved increasingly by God

John 14:21
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him

In order to fully understand what Jesus was saying, we must remember that God loves the world, so if Jesus tells us we will be loved for our obedience, it means we can be loved in a way that is beyond the standard, baseline love God has for all creation

It is a tough point to accept, but it makes sense right?

To keep us separated from true intimacy with God, the enemy wants us to believe our conduct has no impact on our relationship with him, especially in regard to loving others selflessly, as the greatest commands Jesus told us to follow were to love God, and to love each other as he loved us

It is impossible to love one another as Jesus loved us unless we make sacrifices, as he laid down his heavenly authority, power, and glory down for the sake of humbling himself as a man to pay for our sins–by example he showed us the definition of what it means to love one another, and commanded us to love others in the same way

The fact that Jesus demonstrated the ultimate example of love by stepping down from his throne, brings us to the most important point of all

What Motivates Someone To Be Cheerful When Giving Or Serving

In all honesty, many Christians see giving their money, time, and energy to others as something that feels more like a chore than anything else, and even though some do it, they do not experience the sheer joy Paul was talking about when he said “God loves a cheerful giver”

But why is this?

For one, we are not surrounded with enough good pastors, teachers, etc… to encourage this message into congregations properly, but we also do not live the charitable gospel part of the gospel for one simple reason: we do not want to


For example, since human nature tends to be fairly predictable, we often do things which are beneficial for us personally, but even though we know our hearts should be set on loving others, the plain truth is we just do not want to make the sacrifices necessary in order to do it

Double ouch!

Taking an example from my own life, I know it was not until I saw the direct benefit of helping others that I felt true joy in giving to those in need, because, previously, my idea of charity was giving a little extra on Sundays or maybe giving money to someone on the street once in a while

Despite whatever good intentions I had at the time, these things did nothing to build the Acts 2/4 church we read about above, as what I was doing did nothing to actually build relationships with anyone, they just made me feel good about myself for a short amount of time

However, once I started taking the time to actually develop relationships with the people I was helping, my attitude about giving, and serving others, completely shifted, as once I started helping others in a way that made me truly excited because I saw the results, and developed loving friendships in the process, it inspired me to give even more

Look at it this way, would you get excited giving $100 as a tithe without knowing where it went, or would you get excited because you developed a personal relationship with the family that could afford to make rent this month because of your help?

Hopefully the latter!

I am not encouraging people to stop giving their ten percent to church in favor of directly giving to one another, but I am encouraging everyone to reach out to other Christians in order to proactively look for ways love others as there is no shortage of unmet needs all around us

It sounds simple, and it is, but unless we go out of our way to get to know people, and make a commitment to help one another when we see unmet needs, we are not going to experience the joy of fellowship that giving can provide

This is the same reason Jesus looked at his death on the cross as being totally insignificant compared to the joy he would have afterwards in bringing us to him, as he saw the benefit his sacrifice would give in the long-term

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

Now that is an amazing attitude to have, as by comparison, it makes our reluctance to help others look pretty ridiculous

Hmm, let me think about that, Jesus gave up his heavenly authority, died on the cross for us, told us to live in a selfless way like he did, yep, but for some reason we cannot bother tearing ourselves away from YouTube or find any extra money each month to help the less fortunate–makes total sense!


Even though it may be difficult to give or serve cheerfully at first, remember what Jesus said, in that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”, as we only experience the joy of giving once we start actually doing it!

John went even further with this point, as he taught that if we cannot love those around us enough to help them when they are in need, the love of God is not in us

Try that on for a completely unpopular Sunday morning message!

1 John 3:17
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

1 John 4:20
For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen

Luke 12:33-34
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

For some closing thoughts, check out the passages below where Paul reminds us that it is better “to give than to receive”, and that we should not only give, but excel at it as an expression of our faith being expressed through love, again making the comparison of how Jesus laid down everything for our sake, commanding us to do the same out of sincere love for one another, taking special care to address that it is not the amount of money given, but the heart, and willingness that determines the value of the gift itself

Jesus praised the widow who tithed two pennies since she gave all she had, so we have no excuse to withhold even the smallest amount of help we can donate to others!

Galatians 5:6
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love

Acts 20:32–35
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ”

2 Corinthians 8:1-12
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich

And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have

Luke 21:1-4
As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on

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