“Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
I hate to admit it, but I’m not a cheerful giver. I always want to hang on to things and people tightly. Now this can be good — it makes me loyal and persevering in relationships, for example; but when it comes to being generous, it’s a bad thing. I could make excuses and tell you I have an anxious personality, so I get worried that I may not be able to take care of myself if I give away too much. Or I could explain that my grandparents grew up during the depression and they taught me to be excessively frugal and worried about money. None of this gets me off the hook, however. God wants me to give cheerfully to others, and often I don’t.
What do I do about this? Well, as with other spiritual disciplines (and giving is a spiritual discipline), I start where I am, and try to grow. When I’m asked to give financially, I give an amount I am comfortable with, and then I give some more. When I’m asked to give of my time ( and I find my problems with this often come about because I don’t want to disrupt my plans or routine), I remind myself that I’m retired now, and my plans can usually be postponed or changed without causing a problem. I also have the advantage of having a generous, godly husband and two daughters with the gift of mercy. When it comes to matters of giving, I try to let one of them take the lead and I follow their example.
Has it worked? Well, I still don’t always give cheerfully. I’m seldom spontaneously generous. It will never be my gift. But I have grown. I’m not where I ought to be, but I’m not where I used to be, either. As our author, Michele says, I’m a work in progress, both saint and sinner.
I’m open to other suggestions. Readers and authors, how do you practice generosity? Have you grown in this discipline?