‘God loves a cheerful giver’
In the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we see that one of the beautiful virtues that he constantly displays is giving. It is in His nature to constantly give and expect nothing in return. This is clear from the beginning of time, where God created the Earth and it’s beautiful nature, so that we may enjoy all things and seek comfort in it. We also see this throughout the life of Christ (such as in the parable of the five loaves and two fish), and even until his death (where he gives us the ultimate gift-His life). However, as Christians we are not called to admire Christ at a distance, but rather to imitate him in all that He does and learn how to also be givers.
In Corinthian’s 2, St Paul teaches us to let ‘each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver’. It is obvious then, that the way to touch God’s heart, and to move his hand is to be a cheerful giver! This concept is clearly pictured in the parable of the widow who donated two mites in the churches treasury (Mark 12). This act of generosity attracted Jesus’ attention, despite it being a much lesser amount than the Pharisees donation. Our Lord here teaches us that he never looks at the amount that is given, but rather it is the heart in which a good deed is done that is pleasing to Him.
With my last visit to Kenya, I was so happy to find that the concept of giving is a ritual that is highly regarded in their church and culture. After every mass, the people all sing lively and heavenly hymns, and each person puts their donation in a basket on the altar. The whole ritual is filled with joy and happiness, despite them giving from the little that they have. There is never a time when a priest or a bishop would come to visit them, and not be overwhelmed with gifts, from the best of what they have. Whether it is a bag of fruit, eggs or even a live chicken or goat, it is always a big part of their livelihood and source of sustenance. They have learned from Christ, that the materialistic things of the world will all pass away, but they would rather build treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust can destroy. Christ is the true giver of life who grants us with the ultimate joy and peace.
If we learn how to give just as Christ, this may lead us to developing many more virtues. One of the greatest advantages of giving is that it helps us come out of our self centeredness and ego. Whenever I part with what is mine and instead give it to one who is in more need, I no longer consider myself but rather he to whom I am helping. Whenever I consider the poor, the needy, the lonely, those in pain… I am practicing self denial, leaving my self centeredness aside and instead serving Christ.
By giving we are also alerting Christ of our intention to return to Him in repentance. A way to measure the sincerity of one’s repentance is to assess how happy he is to give (God love’s a cheerful giver). God comes close to us when we serve our brother’s and sisters. This doesn’t have to be money- but we give what is nearest to our heart such as: time, effort, riches, emotions, creativity… By giving to the Lord we open the doors of heaven and become very deer to Him.
Many characters in the bible, and the history of the church have recognized this idea. When Zacheus met with Jesus, the act of him selling all that he had, gave him something much more valuable- salvation entering into the home. The sinner women did not say a word, but wept and poured the expensive fragrant oil at the feet of Christ. This was acceptable to The Lord and was used as ointments for his burial. No one has ever sacrificed, without the Lord pouring down blessings upon him.
The beautiful story of St John the poor shows us that whatever we give is never forgotten before God. John was a rich tax collector who was despised in the land due to his greed and lack of charity. Every day a certain poor man would come to his door and beg for a slice of bread, but every day John would shoo him away empty handed. One day however after much persistence by the poor man, John frustratingly threw a piece of bread at his head and went inside his home. That night he saw a vision of the judgement day. As the angel was adjusting the scale of justice- there were plenty of bad deeds on the left side, but there were no good deeds on the right side. After the angel searched frantically, he found that the only good deed John had was the piece of bread that he angrily threw at the poor man. John woke up very disturbed from his vision, so he sold all that he had and went to the monastery. After a long life of devotion to Christ and acetism he passed away, and was named St John the poor.
May we all together practice the virtue of giving in our lives, just as if we are giving to Chris himself so that we may reap the blessings of this great virtue! Glory be to God forever amen.