How to Give Cheerfully

October 25, 2020

David Sorn

The Bible says we should give cheerfully, but many of us are more likely to give begrudgingly than generously and cheerfully. How does one actually give cheerfully?

How to Give Cheerfully

October 25, 2020

David Sorn

The Bible says we should give cheerfully, but many of us are more likely to give begrudgingly than generously and cheerfully. How does one actually give cheerfully?

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | 2 Corinthians 9:6-8


What does it mean to be a cheerful giver?

That’s a phrase the Bible uses…

In fact, it says, “God loves a cheerful giver”

Someone who can give of their resources, not reluctantly, but cheerfully.

For many of us, that isn’t us.

Some of you already tensed up.

We get nervous when people even allude to money…especially in church!

And yet, Jesus talked about money so often, that it made his top 3 of most talked about topics!

Which, by the way, the 3 most common things Jesus talked about were the Kingdom of God, hell, and money.

I think most American Christians, based on typical church sermons might guess it’s: Parenting, Life Balance, and how to use your spiritual gifts J

And God wants us to be able to give cheerfully.

But how do you actually do that?

There was once a mother who gave her child a one-dollar bill and a quarter.

"Sweetheart," the mother said, "you can place one in the offering plate and keep the other. It's entirely up to you."

As they were driving home, the mother asked the daughter what she had decided to give.

The girl said, "Well, at first I was going to give the dollar, but then I heard the pastor say that God loves a cheerful giver, so I felt like I would be much more cheerful if I gave the quarter instead."

It’s funny, except, that’s how I think that verse in the Bible about “God loves a cheerful giver” is often interrupted.

We think, “Well, if it hurt to give…if I were to give sacrificially, I wouldn’t be giving cheerfully, so I’m going to find a number that doesn’t hurt.”

And yet, in context, that isn’t what the verse is saying.


So let’s take a look at this fascinating Bible verse

(Renovation App)

(Bible – Weekly Verses)

Paul is writing to the Christians at Corinth because he is preparing them for his upcoming visit.

And during his upcoming visit, he’s planning on collecting a financial offering that will help the Jerusalem Church and their poor.

The Corinthians have pledged to give to it, and Paul is writing to make sure that they’re ready to fulfill their pledges.

You can read his broader message about this if you read all of chapters 8 & 9, which I encourage you to do so

Let’s take a look at verses 6 & 7

(2 Corinthians 9:6-7) – NIV

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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.

So let’s start with the principle that’s stated in verse 6 about reaping and sowing.

Put simply, it’s saying, “The farmer who plants only a few seeds, will get a small crop. But the one who generously plants a lot of seeds, will get a generous crop”

We’re going to come back to this one a couple of times in this short series because it’s going to echo throughout this chapter

And then Paul says, verse 7, that we should each give from our hearts…not from our income or our budgets

Now, again, we’re in danger if we just pull out this verse at random (and a lot of people do!).

Chapters 8 AND 9 are all one section. I challenge you to read them.

And a major verse, if not THE most important verse of this broader section is Chapter 8 / verse 9

While Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to give, he says:

(2 Corinthians 8:9) – NIV

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Jesus had everything in heaven, but traded his rich throne for a poor manger, all so you could have the riches of salvation.

This is the foundation of everything.

Let’s call this point #1 of how to give cheerfully

How Do You Give Cheerfully?

#1: Deeply Understand What God Gave To You

As a Christian, your giving most be rooted in the Gospel.

In other words, you can’t seriously be cheerfully generous, if you don’t understand how amazingly generous God was to you.

Picture yourself in a courtroom on trial for every single sin you have committed…

All the people you have ever hurt are in the room.

All the people you didn’t help when you should have…

All the mistakes of your life that affected you and others are playing on a screen for the whole room to see…

You are on trial for these sins…and you know you’re guilty of every last one of them.

But right before the judge pounds the gavel and sentences you to your punishment one man steps up and says He will take the punishment for all the wrongs you did, so you can be set free!

If that happened to you, that would be the most generous thing anyone has ever done for you

Well, that’s what Jesus did for you.

He died on the cross, taking the punishment for your sins.

And when you truly understand you have received that kind of generosity, do you know what it causes you to do?

It makes YOU want to be generous to others.

I saw this on a smaller level with my kids last week.

I promise they’re not always like this nice, but we were at dinner, and there was only one biscuit left.

And at first they were fighting over it, and then one kid said, “You know what, you can have mine.”

And the one who got it, felt so good about the generosity given to him, he said to the 3rd kid, “No, he can have it, and he passed it on again”

True generosity, when understood, is contagious.

…and it feels good.


The English writer Carlyle said that when he was a boy, a beggar once came to the door when his parents were gone.

On a youthful impulse he rushed to his room, broke his piggy bank, and gave the beggar all the money from his piggy bank...every last coin.

Later in life, he said that never before or since had he known such sheer happiness as came to him in that moment of giving.

This is second way you can begin to accomplish cheerful generosity

How Do You Give Cheerfully?

#1: Deeply Understand What God Gave To You

#2: By imitating God’s Generosity, You Experience His Joy

One of the reasons so many Christians give reluctantly to God’s work and to others is because they’ve never given generously

Like we read in verse 6…

They’ve only planted a few seeds, and gotten a tiny crop back, and this whole topic of generosity is thus not every exciting to them.

They’ve never gone out, and sacrificially and generously sowed a crop.

And thus they’ve never experienced the joy of an abundant harvest.

And you’ll see as I keep going in this series, I’m not even really talking about getting money back…this is far from a prosperity gospel church

When you generously give to another person in need, there’s a deeper joy in it

This is why Jesus said, “It’s better to give than receive”

Receiving doesn’t satisfy in the same way

When you receive a lot, you aren’t deeply satisfied.

How many of you parents know that December 26th is the worst day of the year?

Your kids get so many presents on Christmas…and they believe that the presents will satisfy them!

And yet, by the night of the 26th, everyone’s incredibly crabby…

Do you know why?

It’s because we were convinced we would be so happy if we got “toy x,” but we’re not, and that disillusion deep down, is incredibly disheartening…even to a little kid.

But when you give…to someone in need…

You go to sleep at night…satisfied.

It’s more blessid to give than to receive.

And the same is true in giving to the Lord’s work

In a couple of months, assuming COVID doesn’t get crazy out of control here, you’ll get to walk into our building for the very first worship service there.

And for many of you, I know you’re going to walk in with an overflowing joy…a deep sense of satisfaction.

Not just because it’s great and beautiful, but because of what God is going to do there in the coming months and years…

…and knowing that you sacrificed, and gave generously, to make that happen.

That’s a blessing.


It’s all well and good to give generously of your finances, but do you know what question people usually ask after studying this passage in 2 Corinthians 9?

They say, “Yeah, but how much? What’s the number? What’s the percentage I should give?”

They say, “Is it 5%? 15%? Tithing (which means 10%)? That’s what I’m supposed to give according to the Bible, right?

This passage would say, “That’s the wrong question.”

If you want to give cheerfully, it says in verse 7, you won’t be able to give so if you’re just doing it reluctantly or under compulsion…

…if you’re asking, “What am I ‘supposed to do?’”

Now, 10% of was a standard of giving from the OT, in fact, faithful Jews, because of temple taxes and more, actually gave closer to 23% of their income...if we’re going to be accurate…but they tithed their crops or income.

And while the New Testament does say A LOT about money, it doesn’t actually say all that much about tithing, giving 10%

In Mt 23:23, Jesus tells the Pharisees to not neglect justice and mercy, AND tithing…but that’s about all we get in the NT.

So Christians usually recommend giving 10% of the money God gave you, back to His work

But sometimes people abuse today’s passage about a “cheerful giver,” and they say, like the little girl at the beginning, “Well, tithing at 10% wouldn’t make me very happy, so if you want me to give cheerfully, it’s going to be more like 3%”

But that’s a complete abuse of this passage…and not the essence of it

No serious NT scholar thinks that Christians should be giving less than 10%.

The New Testament covenant is a better covenant with a better promise…why wouldn’t giving be greater?

Read the Book of Acts…people are selling property, homes, possessions…

It doesn’t look like we’re going backwards from the OT here.

And so yeah, 10%, is a good starting place.

Which is a huge leap of faith for many of you. HUGE.

I don’t want to understate that.

But we gotta stop abusing this this verse like many have for years by taking it out of context.

Look at 3 things here: 1) The broader context, 2) The verse before the cheerful giving verse, and 3) The verse after it.

Beccause we can’t divorce verse 7 (about cheerful giving) from the generosity of Jesus we learned about in chapter 8 in the broader context.

That’s the name of our series.

We are to be Generous Like Jesus…who gave up far more than we ever will.

And secondly we also can’t divorce this verse from the context of the verse right before it!

Remember verse 6 said, whoever sows generously, reaps generously.

It would therefore be both “out of context” AND contradictory to the previous verse to say, “In order to be a cheerful giver, give less”

And thirdly, we can’t divorce this verse about cheerful giving from the verse after it!

We’re going to talk more about this next week, but let me at least show you the next verse, verse 8.

(2 Corinthians 9:8) – NIV

8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

So in the surrounding verses to the “cheerful giving” verse, Paul has said if you want to see God do great things…then you’re going to need to take a risk…and plant a lot of seeds.

And if you do…God will be faithful.

The Greek here is actually quite helpful.

The Greek word for CHEERFUL, in “cheerful giving,” is HILAROS, which is where we get the word hilarious from

And so if you test God in this, and you begin to be plant more seeds (you begin to be generous), He WILL be faithful to you.

So much so, that it will almost be hilarious.

Like, “C’Mon God! How’d you do that!”

But too many of us never experience God’s faithfulness and joy like that…because we only plant a few seeds.

And when you only plant a few seeds…you can’t give cheerfully.

Because every seed you give away is precious one you could have held on to.

But when you give generously, and God still provides for you, and it’s so amazing, it makes you sit back and laugh a little.

Then yes, you can totally give cheerfully.

And so yeah, 10% is a great starting place…and as scary as that sounds, God will provide for you.

We’re going to say more on that next week.

But as Billy Graham often said, “You can’t outgive God”

And let me quickly say something immensely practical regarding this for the very particular season that our church is in right now

I know a good many of you who are new here over the last few years and have been giving maybe 2 or 3% to our General Fund, but then as we began to talk about our Harvest Building Fund, you then gave another 7 or 8% to the Harvest Fund in addition to what you were giving to the General Fund

The Original Harvest Fund pledge ends next month in November, but for 95% of you who extended for 3 months, it ends in February.

And by the way, in the next few weeks or so, we’ll send you out a reminder of what you extended for, and how to do that.

But, here’s my challenge to the many of you who have been giving mostly to the Harvest Fund, and maybe not to the General Fund

If say, for example, you are giving 3% to the General Fund of the church, and 7% to the Harvest Fund, when Harvest is over, give 10% to the General Fund.

Keep tithing.

Don’t go back down to giving 3% to God’s work

God is using your generous giving mightily…don’t go backwards.

So yes, Biblically, I do think tithing is a good place to start, but, I also think if we ONLY think about a mathematical number, we miss the point of what the NT teaches about generosity.

And, you won’t be able to give cheerfully either.

This leads me to my 3rd point

How Do You Give Cheerfully?

#1: Deeply Understand What God Gave To You

#2: By imitating God’s Generosity, You Experience His Joy

#3: Don’t turn generosity into math

Yes, a tithe of 10% is a great starting point, but if you’re living to hit a number, you’re not doing it right.

You’re living under law, not grace.

Law says, “If I do ‘x” then I have satisfied God

Like, “If I hit 10%, God is satisfied.”

That’s not remotely what the NT teaches, and yet I think that’s exactly how the majority of Christians think about tithing.

The NT is about grace, not law.

It teaches that God has so generously moved in us, that our hearts should be MOVED to live in radical generosity.

That’s why our verse says “Give from your Heart”

We should be generous, not just in finances, but with our whole life.

Let me tell you another problem with how modern Christians look at tithing.

Talk of tithing sometimes inadvertently ends up creating a compartmentalization of our finances.

As if 10% is God’s, and the rest is ours

That’s not Biblically true either.

I often hear it even taught that way in churches: “10% is God’s, 10% for savings, and the rest is for you to do with what you want”

Think of it this way, can you imagine the Apostle Paul, or even Jesus Christ saying, “Okay, 10% of this is for God’s work, save up 10%, but the remaining 80% is for me to use for my own wishes and desires!”

No, you can’t.

The reality is, everything you have is from God.

The Scripture teaches we are only the stewards of God’s creation, his possessions, His money.

And so, we’re wrong to compartmentalize to say, “My house is mine, my money for entertainment is mine, my budget for vacations, that’s mine”

God wants to use you in all of your life.

He wants to use you to be hospitable with your house

He wants to use your possessions as you share them with others.

He wants to work through 100% of your life, not just a set aside portion of it.

It’s impossible to be generous when you try and turn generosity into math…because math ends up compartmentalizing everything.

You’ll end up saying, “Well, I would give to help my co-worker out right now, but, it would go into the money that I was saving up for our Florida trip.”

“And I’ve already maxed out at 10% what I give to others”

But can you see…that if you see everything you have…everything…as a generous blessing from God, that it’s easy to cheerfully give it away.

It’s always easier to give away someone else’s money!

And if you can trust that God will provide for you as you give, that makes it easier too.

In fact, that’s what we’re going to talk more about next week.

We’re going to talk about the “Freedom of Generosity,” and how living generously will actually free you from, not only looking negatively at giving, but can also free you from many of the financial anxieties we have as well

So, start diving into this…

Read 2 Corinthians chapter 8 & 9 on your own this week.

And start praying about how you can obey and trust God from this text.

This is important stuff.

I want you to be able to live generously, but also, do so cheerfully.

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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OCTOBER 25, 2020