Chapter 26: A Glad Heart
2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” ESV
It is the cheerful heart that intrigues me.
While this verse speaks about money and our tithes and offerings, I wonder how might the ‘glad heart’ principle apply to the rest of our life?
It occurs to me that there are three things that the principle of a glad heart guide us in:
1. It Challenges us to Check our Hearts
What are we believing and feeling about any given situation, and how might we adjust our attitude in order to find and express a gladness of heart?
It takes maturity to overlook the assumptions, expectations, and ignorance of others.
But in order to give with a glad heart this is often what we must do. It is, after all, what
God has done with us.
Despite our offensiveness and sin God rose above all that to give to us with a glad heart.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV
And while we are not God we can have the Lord’s help with our hearts at any time. The Psalmist cried out, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10 NIV
While we cannot change the core of our hearts we can come in honesty before the Lord. It is honesty before the Lord that purifies and refines us.
While we cannot mandate another’s heart, we are to be responsible for our own. In this we find God working on our behalf.
“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12b-13 ESV
The principle of a glad heart is highly personal. It is something for each of us to work through with the Lord for ourselves.
2. It Guides our Giving
For many of us, generosity is a way of life. Yet, because of this there may be many who simply come to expect, and take for granted, this in us.
When expectation, without respect, is placed on us by another, our hearts alert us to this difficulty – our hearts are not able to be glad.
When we are unable to give gladly it is time to step back from giving. Perhaps we are burnt out. Perhaps we have been taken advantage of. Perhaps we feel compelled and manipulated. Perhaps we intuit that our giving would end up with regret.
Here we are warned away from a generosity that would suck our life-force from us. If we cannot give gladly, it is better to not give at all.
In some instances gladness will return, other times not. What is inferred in “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 ESV is honesty and integrity in our inner core.
Our decisions and our actions must clearly align with our hearts, otherwise we are living falsely. This doesn’t bless the Lord. And it doesn’t ultimately bless others.
We refuse to give under compulsion, or guilt, manipulation, not grudgingly or with regret.
We put boundaries against those who would dishonour us. We do not allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. We ensure an honesty in our giving. For we understand that it is our job to ensure we can remain in a gladness of heart.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverbs 4:23 ESV
“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” Hebrews 12:15 ESV
Do what you are glad to be doing. Allow your heart to lead you in the activities and service you are to be about. There are many good things to do in this world, but which good thing makes you glad?
Go after that. Invest in that. For therein lies your passion and the calling of your life. Here is where there is honest living for you, and true blessing towards those you serve.
“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 ESV
Keeping in mind that we do this to the extent of what we have. While many may demand and expect of us much, we must always remember to give of what we have.
Do you have wisdom, perhaps money, expertise in crops, business savvy – a heart for school children, for other leaders, for women, for education, for trades and technical skills… what is your heart for? Work from there.
3. It Reminds us to not become a Weight on Others
When others cannot engage with us gladly, then we know something is off. The lack of gladness in others reminds us to back off, to fix our approach, to reckon what might be wrong, and to give full respect for the generosity of others towards us.
We can watch for this gladness in others in a variety of situations.
While applying to our financial giving, it also applies to any situation, from the gifts we give, to help with chores around the house, and even to sexual intimacy in marriage.
I once heard it taught to men how to recognize the willingness of their woman in regards to sexual intimacy – it was this: Look for enthusiasm. When a woman responds with enthusiasm, know that she wants sex as much as you. Without enthusiasm, you are bordering on rape at worst, and blatant disregard at best.
Gladness of heart in the bedroom reveals the core of a marital relationship. Gladness of heart in the bedroom indicates the level of honour and respect in the relationship.
In addition to this example from marriage, consider how this applies to leadership. There are a number of verses throughout the Bible admonishing us to work in cooperation with our leaders, and I am convinced that gladness of heart is at the core of these requests.
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17 NIV
As a leader, a teacher, a mentor, when is it most amazing to lead?
When we can do so from a glad heart.
As people, we want to increase other’s gladness. Leading is hard enough, there is no need to make it any harder. Take care not to erode the gift of gladness to those who are spending their lives on our behalf.
For as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, the point is so that mutual give and take, blessing and being blessed, can flow back and forth within the Christian community.
We give with a glad heart out of what we have, knowing that God is taking care of us just the same.
“Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.”
2 Corinthians 8:14 ESV
We cannot ever force another to have a glad heart. In fact, remaining in someone’s face demanding their gifts in a gladness of heart, ensures a less glad heart.
In every area of life, pushing for what we want, means we get less of what we want.
While perseverance is good it is always to be worked out in the context of relationship with each other. It does us no good to get what we want but to break fellowship along the way.
Gladness of heart ensures a right attitude as we give, and as we receive, and as we work and live and love alongside others.
When we invest in our own glad heart, respect the glad hearts of others around us, and when we refuse to diminish the glad hearts of others, we find a deep gladness for life itself.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17 ESV
The biggest violation of this glad heart principle is found in churches and their demands for a tithe from every member each and every time they enter the door of a church.
Tithing was never meant to be a burden or to be used to manipulate and wrestle money from people. God makes it very clear that it does not matter what we give, but it does matter if we can give it with a glad heart.
God does not need anything. God does not need your money. God loves a cheerful giver because he knows that giving enters us into the same work as he himself is in – but not even God forces anyone to give.
Seek the Lord about the tithing practices in your church and ask God if you are forcing people to tithe. Also, if you are afraid of what might happen if people didn’t give, then take these fears to the Lord and ask for healing. Begin to trust God in a new way for your provision as pastor. Do not use your position to violate the principle of a glad heart for your people.
Summary – a glad heart
Honesty with our hearts is first and foremost. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Secondly, we allow God to change our hearts. Philippians 2:12-13
Third, we make space for other’s hearts and what they can or cannot do at any time. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Next, we trust God to change all our hearts. Psalm 51:10
We do not force others. 2 Corinthians 8:12
We give and we receive as The Spirit leads, without compulsion on ourselves or others. 2 Corinthians 8:14