6 What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop.
7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8 God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. 9 As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever.
10 The one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating will supply and multiply your seed and will increase your crop, which is righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12 Your ministry of this service to God’s people isn’t only fully meeting their needs but it is also multiplying in many expressions of thanksgiving to God.
Let’s be honest: we are not always cheerful givers. There are plenty of times when giving feels like a chore or a burden. Gift-giving can quickly become a joyless task when you’re exchanging presents with someone who already seems to have everything. And when you feel likewise, the question becomes: “why are we doing this?”
Some years ago, my family came to this realization around Christmastime. We set aside the “every-person-buys-for-every-other-person” approach in favor of something much simpler: each of us now choose to do what makes sense and feels good to us. And no one needs to feel guilty.
Similarly, I find that over time, the causes and organizations I want to give money to also shift. When I find that something that once seemed important now feels like a burden, I conclude it’s probably time to move on to something else.
The important thing is to keep giving. And the best way to do that is to keep finding the joy in giving.
I say that the important thing is to keep giving because I believe that Christians are created to give. We’re blessed to become blessings to others, called to share our gifts to make the world a better place. A lot of that happens through the Church, of course, but it can happen through any number of causes that speak to your heart: education, caring for the homeless, advocacy for the marginalized, missionary work in far-away countries, youth or campus ministry here in the US. What speaks to me might be different from what speaks to you. And what speaks to me today might be different from what speaks to me tomorrow.
What’s beautiful is that, like the scripture says: “he scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy.” I hear in that verse the message that God is behind it all – that when I follow my heart, and you follow yours, God’s work will all get done.
Don’t give out of guilt, or out of pressure. Give because you want to.
And here’s a secret to doing that: find the things that make your heart hurt, and then give joyfully to those working to alleviate human suffering in that area, knowing you’re making a difference. God loves a cheerful giver – so be one!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
How do you feel about what you give right now – to the church, to other organizations, in gifts to your family or friends? Are there places that feel like burdens to you? Are there places that feel like real joy to you? How might you begin to realign your giving priorities to find more joy in giving?
Prayer: God, you have created us for generously sharing the things we have with others. And you’ve given us the wonderful blessing of choosing exactly how we’d like to do that. By your Spirit, guide us to find more joy in our giving. Amen.