“Out of the mouths of babes…” they say. Sometimes our kids can give us pause for thought because of their perspective, or often, just their sheer and brutal honesty. And sometimes, like today, it was a children’s song that gave me pause for thought.
“God loves a cheerful giver”, sang the cheery tune, over and over again.
I was reminded that earlier in the day I had not been feeling very cheerful about giving. And I quickly had a second thought following the first. I had always thought that ‘cheerful giving’ was in relation to money. But for me, it wasn’t money that I was feeling resentful about giving – it was something else.
In all honesty, I have never been a cheerful financial giver. I am happy to give out of a place of plenty – that’s easy. But when things are tight, or I feel close to the edge financially, I don’t feel as cheerful about it. I’ve been known to grit my teeth and smile as I give. Seriously. That is not a cheerful heart, nor a cheerful attitude.
Someone close to me who has been underemployed nearly her whole life, is not that way. I have seen her give large sums of money to faith-based organizations or specific outreach appeals in a sacrificial way and generous way. Without a second thought. With a smile… (and not the kind where you grit your teeth either!). I think she knows what it is to be a cheerful giver. I think she knows how to be a cheerful giver because she trusts God. Our God promises to provide. She takes Him at His Word and gives, even sacrificially.
Is it that I lack trust, perhaps?
But today I was not feeling cheerful about giving of my time.
Time seems in short supply, doesn’t it? And if I’m honest, it feels hard for me to give time to others. I’m always thinking to myself that “I need more time to…” I feel squeezed for time. I feel like there are so many things demanding my attention. I can become resentful of commitments that I have made because of all the things on my agenda. Maybe I should have said ‘no’. (My default answer is ‘yes’!) But sometimes this can leave me worn out or running frenzied and frantic. Or just grumpy, rather than cheerful.
So how do I become a cheerful giver?
I don’t know that I have any answers here.
Maybe the one thing that is the most precious to me is the one thing that Jesus asks me to learn to give. Jesus asks me to live sacrificially, to lay down my life for Him. But also, I know that the one thing that Jesus wants from me is my time. I know this, because He told me that one day, clear as anything.
I think time might be my most precious commodity these days. For many of us this might be true. I think I need to offer it to God as a gift, as an offering. I need Him to direct my steps each day in helping me see how He wants me to spend my time. And I believe I can do this by really listening to the Holy Spirit and following those nudges, even the slight ones. (Especially those ones.) And I think that when I choose to spend time with Jesus in the morning, attuning myself to His heart, that sets me up for being able to better notice the nudges later on in the day.
I think that often what we deem insignificant holds more value in God’s eyes than our own. Especially when it comes to loving others. Any time we spend lavishing the love of the Father on someone, for instance. Perhaps these moments are like gifts to our Father. And when we turn our loving attention towards Him and spend time in His presence, communing with Him… perhaps that is also a gift to Him. Perhaps if I reframe time as a gift… ? Perhaps that would help me become a more generous, more cheerful giver?
Jesus, would you help me! Would you help us to be cheerful givers for you. Would you help us to sing your praises as we give… and give some more. Would you help us to understand how to give the way you do: abundantly and generously… In Jesus’ name. Amen.