Plastered on most tithe envelopes (if such things still exist) lives a little hint: “God loves a cheerful giver.” Have you seen it?
It can feel a bit cliche, but it packs quite a punch in the context of the rest of the verse. Read this out loud:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
Paul wrote this hint to the Church in Corinth about being prepared to give an offering to God’s people in Jerusalem.
As I make the case in this classic video called “Offer.ing,” giving our tithes and offerings is a foundationally appropriate way to worship.
But what if we applied this verse to our singing?
After all, GIVING is at the heart of worshiping. If God is looking for worshipers, I bet He’s especially thrilled to find a cheerful worshiper.
With these verses in mind, what can we learn about the nature of worship and our preparation for it as we gather as worshipers?
WORSHIP IS SOWING
As I worship, I plant seeds. Singing becomes farming. No farmer in their right mind goes to the store, buys a single pack of seeds, and plants it. No way! Silver Queen sweet corn comes in bags of 100,000 seeds. You probably enjoyed some this summer. (Lucky!)
When you sow in worship, there is reaping. But there’s waiting too—ninety-two days in the case of Silver Queen. You sow in faith, in trust, in weeping, in joy.
Never think that you’re just singing a song. You’re sowing. There will be a beautiful harvest in the same measure that you put the seeds into the ground.
Have you ever stood on a ledge overlooking the deep water and tried to muster the never to jump in? Is it easier for you to do so when your friends have been egging you on (or nagging you!) to jump already? Some of us have a strong aversion to peer pressure, and it makes us walk away from the ledge. Others of us need the nudging.
But wouldn’t it be a better experience if, before we even climb up, to have made up our minds that we’re going to jump no matter what?
Set your hearts like a flint, friends. Given the chance, I will worship the LORD. Or as the sign on my office wall once read, “Have breath, will worship!”
LET THE GRUDGE GO
Nothing feels less generous than a gift given grudgingly. Imagine some four-year-olds sharing their cookie with a sibling because a parent asked them to. Can you picture their face?! (Now you know why some worship team members look that way! LOL)
Y’all, we are reluctant sometimes. We feel the duty. Don’t let anyone “should” on you. Make up your heart and mind before you’re in the moment as to how you’ll respond to the LORD.
GRACE EMPOWERS WORSHIP
Oh, stop the grunting already! We try so hard sometimes to “get in.” Pay attention to where the grace is flowing. How is the LORD already at work, already softening your heart, already providing what you need to respond to Him?
Like we’ve likely heard the guilt trip to give money, we’ve heard the guilt trip (internal or external) to worship in a certain way. The scriptures are full of freedom in ways to worship the Father. Let that be our guide as we gather.
ENJOY THE FIRST DANCE
In some cultures, there’s a custom to have the new bride and groom share a first dance at their wedding reception. Weddings are a big deal, and their planning and execution can be stressful.
Some of the best advice we got before we got married almost 16 years ago was to look at each other in the eyes. “Don’t miss the moment together.”
Let the narrative of this verse form you. We read that God loves something, or more accurately, a kind of someone. Think about it. God directs His love toward you as you give, as you worship.
Lock eyes with Him as you sing, as you give, as you worship. Enjoy the nearness. Enjoy it like a first dance.
These ways of thinking about being a cheerful worshiper are a pattern we can use to look at scripture, apply it to our expressions, and have the LORD transform our thinking as He renews our minds.