“Give Cheerfully

WAY #16: GIVE CHEERFULLY. Rejoice, you get to give! Think of giving as a privilege rather than an obligation, a joy instead of a burden. As you consider all that’s been entrusted to you—time, abilities and money—ask, “How is God calling me to share what I’ve been given?”  Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 9: 7; Luke 6: 38
 
Let me share a wonderful quote from a favorite author of mine, Henri Nouwen. He was a Roman Catholic priest who loved Jesus Christ with a remarkable passion. Nouwen died in the mid-1990’s and left a legacy through his writing that continues to speak to Christians to this day. Here’s what Henri Nouwen once wrote about giving and what happens in our lives when we give: “We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life . . . all of our life. It is sad that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the joy of giving. We often live as if our happiness depended on having. But I don’t know anyone who is really happy because of what he or she has. True joy, happiness and inner peace come from giving of ourselves to others. A happy life is a life for others.” (From Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World)
 
The people I admire most are givers. Givers are so often full of life and joy. I’m thinking of a man I knew who died quite suddenly this past week. This man was a capital g Giver. Years ago, he and his wife joined the church where I served as pastor. One of the questions I like to ask participants in an Inquirer’s Class is: what’s your favorite ice cream? In that class a number of people, including me, mentioned a Ben and Jerry’s flavor when sharing their answer. A week after the class, a package arrived on my front door. It was a large box containing dry ice and 6 pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, including 2 of my favorite flavor (Chubby Hubby, if you’re wondering). There was no name or return address on the package. There was a phone number and when I called it, my friend answered. I thanked him and we laughed over the fun of it all.
 
If there’s one quality I’d pray God give us a congregation, it would be the gift of generosity. Perhaps more than any other virtue, lavish, joy-infused giving best reflects the heart of God. For when God loves, God gives. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only, begotten Son.” (John 3:16)
 
Stuart Spencer, Pastor