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What Does a "Cheerful Giver" Look Like?

Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthian church, “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” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Through understanding this passage, we can ascertain what a cheerful giver looks like.

Keeping Up Appearances

A cheerful giver doesn’t have a specific outward appearance. Rather, anyone of any ethnicity or background can be a cheerful giver. Likewise, a man and a woman can equally be cheerful givers. We can tell what a cheerful giver looks like by their heart, their behaviors, and their actions. Cheerful givers are those who decide to give out of their heart, “not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 2:9). 

Cheerful givers do not feel as if they have to find the excitement. Rather, they desire to give, as Paul says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give” (2 Corinthians 9:7a). Cheerful givers have great joy giving to others. A cheerful giver would never give something out of obligation or from a self-seeking avenue. While on the surface, many givers might look the same, a cheerful giver is radically different. In other words, cheerful givers do not begrudgingly make offerings nor do they lavish the offering plate with funds from a desire to be praised by others. Instead, they choose to give out of the joy of their hearts.

Sadly, within our own churches, there are not many cheerful givers. When it is time to tithe or give to a missionary trip, many of us are hesitant to give. If we do decide to give, it’s more out of obligation or conviction. God wants us all to be cheerful givers. The Lord reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Cheerful givers are overjoyed at the thought of helping others, and they expect nothing in return—no praise, prize, or special feeling inside. They give because they truly want to give to others as Christ has richly given to them.

A Cheerful Giver

We can all become cheerful givers through God’s help. A person doesn’t have to be an elite spiritual individual to be a cheerful giver. It is possible for every one of us to become cheerful givers. In our modern era, it can be common to withhold our income for various reasons, even reasons that do not relate to greed. Maybe we withhold our money because we need it for food for the week or our medication at the pharmacy. 

The widow in Jesus’ story is a great example of a cheerful giver (Mark 12:43-44, Luke 21:1-4). The widow had no money left, yet she gave what she did have, two copper coins. The Gospel of Mark describes this account for us, “Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on’” (12:43-44). This widow, as shown in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, gives us the perfect example of a cheerful giver.

A cheerful giver looks like a person who loves the Lord, loves to give to others, and is joyful in all of their giving; however, a cheerful giver ultimately comes down to a person’s heart. If the individual truly loves the Lord and genuinely loves giving, it will show in their face and their actions. Most of us can tell if a person is faking a cheerful spirit or a smile. In the same way, we can tell if a person is faking a cheerful heart. While it may be harder to distinguish a fake smile from a fake cheerful giver, we can tell by their words, actions, and behavior. 

Becoming a Cheerful Giver

Becoming a cheerful giver cannot happen outside of God’s work in our lives. If you want to cultivate being a cheerful giver in your own life, pray to God and ask for His help. Ask Him to help you become a cheerful giver, and ask Him to open your heart to unique ways you can give to others. Part of being a cheerful giver means knowing in your own heart how much you want to give. A cheerful giver does not mean that you have to give the most money or items. Rather, it means you are joyful to give the amount you give. We should not gauge a person’s cheerful giving on how much they bring to the table. 

Instead of looking at the amount a person gives, we should take notice of their heart motives. This is an important part for us to remember as we are trying to cultivate a cheerful giver’s heart. We should be compelled out of our own hearts to give rather than a set amount or an obligation forcing our offerings. Giving out of a generous heart goes back to God. If we are truly cheerful givers, we reflect God. As followers of God, we should strive to reflect His sacrificial giving in our own lives.

God is a cheerful giver Himself. He freely gives salvation to us through placing faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16-17). God is also a cheerful giver by the very act of His giving us life. He didn’t need us, yet out of His great love for us, He gave us life. Therefore, we should be cheerful givers just as God is a cheerful giver. The Lord is our ultimate example to follow in giving.

Cheerful giving has to be intentional, just as God’s giving to us is intentional. In other words, we must take the incentive to give to others. Make it a priority to give with a cheerful heart. The Holy Spirit will help you and guide you to when you should give and the amount. As already mentioned, one doesn’t have to give hundreds of dollars to be a cheerful giver. It doesn’t matter the amount—what matters is the heart.

Being a cheerful giver can help us in our Christian walk, not only by giving financially but also by giving our time and energy to helping others. Many of us shy away from getting involved with activities or individuals that will take away our time. However, the individual who is a cheerful giver gives freely and without complaint. They love to help others and give their time to help. This can sound like an impossible goal, yet we should never see being a cheerful giver as a “goal.” Rather, being a cheerful giver is a change of the heart. 

For many of us, it can be hard to be a cheerful giver, yet with God’s help, we can cultivate this practice in our lives. Our hearts will be changed and renewed as we grow to become cheerful givers. Being a cheerful giver is not a special gift only given to a select few. Rather, anyone can become a cheerful giver through God’s help, personal intention, and a heart open to loving others. Cheerful giving will take time and practice, yet it is a beautiful thing in God’s eyes to be a cheerful giver. 

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Tom Parsons


Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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