In the recent experience of our northern neighbours in Queensland, Australians have shown themselves to be a fairly generous bunch of people: giving money, time, goods, service and energy to helping those affected by the devastating floods.
One thing that strikes me as being quite foundational is the term “cheerful giver.” Those who have the attitude of Scrooge would doubt there could ever be such a thing. But once they start to open their hearts to give, the joy builds. There is something about the satisfaction of seeing someone else enjoying the benefit of your gift that lifts the spirit and brightens the heart.
This reflection from StillSpeaking echoes this same sentiment:
“God loves a cheerful giver,” says the Apostle Paul. But is there any other kind? In my experience givers are cheerful. I have never known any truly giving person who has not been a person of cheer. Joy is one of the indelible characteristics of the giving person.
I am not referring to the kind of reluctant, sharp-penciled, let-me-figure-out-what-my-share-is kind of giver. Rather, I am thinking of the open-handed, open-hearted givers. They not only spread cheer and share joy, they obviously know cheer and experience joy.
We might wonder which comes first: Do these people know cheer and joy because they are givers, or are they givers because they are people of cheer and joy? The question seems strangely moot, however, for in the lives of such people the two are inextricably intertwined. Joy and giving flow from one another in a sure and blessed way. Think of it as the endless echo of grace.
Among the reasons why givers are cheerful is that, in giving to others, we are acting in accordance with God’s intentions for our lives. After all, we are created to be givers, meant to be givers. So when we close in on ourselves in self-concern, we are departing from what God intends for us, and there is no joy in that.
So Paul enjoins us to give, to borrow the words of Jesus, “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
God, help me to take my part in the echo of grace, where giving and joy flow from one another. Amen.
–Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver