2 Corinthians 9:6-9
In my family, children didn’t receive allowances. That’s not to say that we didn’t have opportunities to earn money by doing extra work beyond our normal chores. When I was eight, Dad propped me up on phone books in the driver’s seat of our pickup, with blocks strapped to the pedals so I could reach them. If I successfully steered the truck between the rows of hay bales, I earned a penny for every bale that my big brother and his friends loaded into the truck bed. We also got paid for fixing fences, collecting rocks in the fields, and other odd jobs. No matter how we earned the money, we were taught that come Sunday, we were to put a portion of it in the offering plate at church.
I could accept that we were expected to give money at church, because that’s what I saw my parents do and I never saw them complain. What didn’t make sense was that I was supposed to be happy about it. “God loves a cheerful giver,” the preacher would declare. But I never saw that preacher help collect the hay bales with his smooth hands.
Fortunately, my perspective on cheerful giving has changed a little since those days, especially since I’m now the preacher with smooth hands. I’ve received unexpected, unsolicited gifts and know how good those made me feel. I’ve also done some truly selfless acts (albeit too infrequently) and experienced the real joy that comes from giving to another with no expectation of return. Now that I’m the one declaring, “God loves a cheerful giver,” I have empathy for the kid who doesn’t look happy about letting go of that quarter during the offering, But I pray they do it anyway, because one day the truth of their giving will shine through.
Think about the times you’ve been on each side of the giving equation. What emotions did you feel?
God, may I be mindful of how I give. May I not give reluctantly, or as though it’s a chore. May I give from a place of joy and love instead. Amen.