Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Before we get into what Paul writes to the people of Corinth, yes, another quick sports story. I remember when Tiger Woods reclaimed the green jacket at the Masters in 2019 after a series of personal and professional struggles. Now that Tiger was back on top, I remember a quote of his when he was asked about what drives him to succeed. To paraphrase he said, “It’s not so much that I enjoy winning but rather, I hate losing”. While his success on the golf course has surpassed anyone of his contemporaries, according to Paul, he has it backwards. Instead of finding joy in winning he instead finds his joy in not losing.
Paul writes that God loves a cheerful giver. When I’m completely honest about it, my world view is a lot like Tiger’s. When I evaluate the few successes, I attribute each to a fear of failure as my main motivation. While the end victory does result in joy, the road there is often filled with the fear that I will not live up to the expectation. While the Glory is God’s, the real story tells a tale of going all in, counting none of the cost, in order that success is attained. While I believe God has purposed every action and direction in my heart, too often mission is accomplished through much sweat and tears and not enough joy and cheer.
Instead of continuing on this path of joyless accomplishment, instead I choose joy.
Joy in the journey, and sometimes struggle, because God is worthy of our very best. I don’t really skew that idea, but instead my purpose will tend to wallow in the depths of the struggle instead of keeping my eyes up on the victory.
Joy in the failure, because God works all things for good. As the song goes, “Your love never fails…You make all things work together for my good.” Success doesn’t always mean good. Sometimes failure, when put into the large context of God’s plan is good.
Joy in the victory…and thanks be to God! So many promises in the Bible about how God wants us to win, wills us to win, causes us to win. Yes, a lot of times the road to victory is a challenging one. Things don’t go as planned. Technology fails. People fail. I fail. But instead of keeping account of all the bumps in the road, I need to instead keep my eyes, my mind and my heart set on the One who conquered all. The I AM. When I do so, the only thing that matters at the end of the day is that Jesus loves me and I love Him right back, and there’s tons of joy in that simplicity.
Jesus, correct my perspective again, recalibrate my heart again. I give because I’m happy, not because I have to. Thank you that Your joy comes in the morning, every morning, every day. May I count on that consistency and Your glorious purpose. Amen