God loves a cheerful giver
A scriptural quote which helps me when I overwork, which I first saw on a church Gift Aid envelope, is ‘The Lord loves a cheerful giver’, but a bit more of the passage is more instructive.
2 Corinthians 9.6-7 (NIV): 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
It is easy to just think of the first sentence about bountiful sowing bringing bountiful rewards as, probably, we all want to do that, but the two sentences are juxtaposed for a reason, I believe. They are, for me, an encouragement towards generous giving but also a warning against giving compulsively or reluctantly.
When I have been over busy in my ministry, I need to ask myself – if I can discipline myself to stop long enough, even to ask! – these questions: –
Am I cheerful in my giving in ministry right now?
If the answer is ‘No’ or ‘Not Very’ or ‘I am downright grumpy about doing one more thing for my parish’, I need to look at the start of that sentence: ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion’.
Am I acting under compulsion, believing I have no choices? I always have choices, even if it is just over my attitude.
Am I making thoughtful decisions about giving or just doing what I think I must do?
Is this giving coming from my abundantly grateful and Spirit- filled heart or is this coming from a depleted spiritual bank?
Am I doing this because I think that if I do not do it, no-one will?
Is this energy I am expending in ministry, energy which I can afford or is it draining an empty tank?
Do I have enough energy left for my nearest and dearest?
Am I reluctant to continue because I am exhausted, if I can be truly honest with myself?
The Old Testament also has something to say to me: Isaiah 30.15 (NIV):
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
Those of us (including me) who overwork, do identify with those last seven words ‘but you would have none of it’ when we are in full flow of overwork. Repenting our overworking ways is anathema to us at these times.
Rest seems the thing we must not take, forgetting entirely that God works mightily while we rest and that we are saved by faith and trust in God and not by works.
Quietness, whether of ourselves, bodily, mentally, spiritually, emotionally or quietness of our mobile ‘phones, laptops, computers, iPads, headphones or telephones seems an impossibility for us at times.
Trust. Aye, there’s the rub, as Shakespeare said. Can we trust anyone else to pick up jobs we have not done, to pray prayers we have forgotten to pray, to care for those we have not cared for?
Yes, we most assuredly, can. God, who will never leave us nor forsake us, will never leave nor forsake others either and can be trusted to do (or even to leave alone) all these things and more. God, through Christ Jesus, the Son, may decide: –
- to do things differently
- to do things at a different speed than I would have done them or
- to not do anything at all – I always forget that one
And maybe, just maybe, the outcome will be a teensy-weensy bit better than I could ever hope for or imagine. Maybe then I will also get round to doing other things, which only I can do for myself, which I never have time for. It’s not only God who loves a cheerful giver. I love myself much better when I am cheerful in my giving and my nearest and dearest like it better that way also.
Wendy Edwards, Licensed Lay Minister