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“…the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”
–2 Corinthians 9:6-8–
My college roommates and I didn’t have a lot of money when we were working on our bachelor’s degrees at Western Kentucky University. We shared several rooms of an old, rundown house, which had seen better days. The wallpaper was falling off the walls, the paint was peeling, and there were places in the floors where you wondered if you would fall through. But it was cheap — which was what ALL of us needed because we were all working our way through school on our own.
Given our situation, there quickly came to be an unwritten rule in our house — share as each one has. We all went through ups and downs financially, but those dips were lessened because someone else in the house had just come into a few bucks and could buy the pizza this week. The next week, it would be someone else, and the next somebody different. We never kept score or maintained a running total of who owed who for we understood that in the end it would all work out. Our goal was to simply live with joy and enjoy the provisions that God had given us in the moment. Things were tight, for sure, but God provided and more often than not provided at a level that would allow us to share with others.
As Paul told the church at Corinth, the spirit of generosity is a characteristic of people of faith. We aren’t called to give out of duty or compulsion, but rather simply because giving brings us joy as we share in the bounty that God has given us. We give because it connects us to the spirit of the great giver of life and grace, the God of our creation, redemption, and sustenance.
Think about Christmas for a minute. Do you give because you have to or because you want to? When it’s giving out of duty (“I HAVE to buy them a present because they gave me on…”) more often than not we carry resentment and anger about that gift. Giving in that mode removes any sense of the Christmas spirit from our hearts, and I would argue we might be better off emotionally and spiritually not giving at all.
But giving when we want to is exciting, and compelling, and full of joy. We spend time and energy picking or making just the right gift. It might be expensive or it might not, but our goal is not to impress with the size of our gift, but to bring joy in another’s heart. We take time to wrap it with just the right paper and bow, and a smile crosses our face as we hand the gift to our loved one and wait for them to open it. Giving in this way is winsome and joyful. It uses the blessings we’ve been giving to bless others.
As you go through your week, I hope that you will think about what type of giver you are. Are you someone who gives generously because it brings you joy, or is there resentment in your giving, doing it because you have to, not because you want to?
Take a moment to leave a comment below about the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received, and your sense of the motive and desire of the giver of that gift.
May we all be cheerful givers.