January 16, 2011
Excerpt from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
"God loves a cheerful giver."
Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver
"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.