"Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." - 2 Corinthians 9:7
The little boy, for whom the words "tow-headed" seemed to have been invented, eagerly ran to the front of the church for the children's message. As they had many times before, most of the children put coins into a basket placed in the aisle along the way. The tow-head ran to the basket and threw two coins in with his right hand. Then he turned back toward the congregation, showed his mother his left hand and declared in a flamboyant stage whisper: "I'm just gonna keep this one." The tow-head's mother waved him over and their heads bent together. After a short exchange, the tow-head trudged back and placed the last coin in the basket. After that, he joined the other kids in the circle. The coin seemingly forgotten, he sang as joyfully and as loudly as any of them.
All due respect to the Apostle Paul, but I just don't agree with him. If I waited until my mind was made up to be generous…Good Lord! Who knows how long it would be until I gave with both hands? Instead, I pray that God loves those of us who sometimes give only under compulsion. Those of us who, coming upon the basket, the envelope or the cup held out in a dirty hand, pause for a moment and confer with their Mother. Those of us who sometimes have to be nudged into giving. Those of us who, having given at last, join the circle of voices with as much cheer as those for whom generosity comes more easily.
Mother, Thank you for your whispers of encouragement. And thank you, too, for the invitation to join the circle of singing voices, even when we our giving comes with reluctance. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.