Pleasure In Giving
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)
In 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7, Paul motivates the Corinthians to be generous. I take this passage to mean that God is not pleased when people act benevolently but don’t do it gladly. When people don’t find pleasure (Paul’s word is cheer) in their acts of service, God doesn’t find pleasure in them. He loves cheerful givers, cheerful servants. What sort of cheer? Surely the safest way to answer that question is to remember what sort of cheer moved the Macedonians to be generous. It was the overflow of joy in the grace of God, therefore, the giver God loves is the one whose joy in Hm overflows “cheerfully” in generosity to others.
If you try to abandon the pursuit of your full and lasting joy, you cannot love people or please God. If love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others, then to abandon the pursuit of this cheerfulness sets you on a course in which God takes no delight. If we are indifferent to whether we do a good cheerfully, we are indifferent to what pleases God. For God loves a cheerful giver.
Therefore, it is essential that we be Christian Hedonists on the horizontal level in our relationships with other people, and not just on the vertical axis in our relationship with God.
If love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of other people, and if God loves such joyful givers, then this joy of giving is a Christian duty, and the effort not to pursue it is sin.
Generosity is the outcome of love and trust. It was because that God so loved us the He was motivated with the incredible generosity of sending His Son. We read that God created everything in the universe for His pleasure and then He created man, placed Him in the garden and gave all that He had created to that man. Further we read that God noticed that the man needed someone to share it all with so He created woman. Scripture tells us that God came in the cool of the evening to spend time with the man and woman for whom He had generously given everything. When man fell, God implemented His plan of redemption and the Bible tells us that Christ even endured the cross because of the joy of redeeming us from sin and adopting us into the family of God as joint heirs.
Generosity is the outflow from those who have been overwhelmed by the love, grace, and mercy of God who reached into the depths of sin and lifted us out. Because He loved us, we love. Because He was so generous to us we can afford to be generous. Because God is happy to bless us, we can be a blessing to others.
Everything we have to give has first been received. Galatians list the fruit of the Spirit in chapter 5. All of the attributes listed there are the results of us first receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. So when we exhibit love, joy, peace, patience and so forth, we only do so because we have first been given the gift of the Spirit first and when we receive Him He brings with Him the fruit.
We are told that God supplies every need we have and because we trust Him to do so, we have liberty to become generous with all we have for our source is God and we trust His resupply.
True joy is found in sharing. Can you imagine what life would be if it was only one of us and there was no one to share life with? Or what if there was no church family to share our joys and sorrows with. What if you were in need and no one noticed or cared? Or what if you had more than enough and had no one to share your excess?
When we truly consider giving, we must also consider receiving for the cycle is not complete until we participate in both the giving and the receiving. Only when we find the joy of giving can we truly enjoy the blessing of receiving.
For those who only focus on receiving, it seems that they never find satisfaction. Those who only receive crave more and more and never see to have enough. How miserable it must be to gather and collect and save and store without never experiencing the delight and joy of seeing what they have enjoyed shared.
I think some of the unhappiness in the world today is largely due to the greed that drives to attain more and more and never leaving time to enjoy what is attained.
Remember when we were children and how we enjoyed the important things of friends and fun and sharing? Remember the joy of sharing an ice cream or a candy bar with our friend and how happy that made us feel?
Generosity recaptures joy and those who are truly generous- those who delight in the privilege of giving and serving- are usually the most contented of all men. The ironic thing is that generous people are usually those who find themselves blessed with abundant resources. It is true that those who are generous have returned to them “full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”
Dr. John Thompson