In today's Epistle reading (2 Corinthians 9:6-11), we hear,
"Brethren, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God."
Take note of St. Paul's extravagance, his liberality, his confidence that we won't run out of anything we need if we give lavishly, as Good does, scattering over-the-top blessings to those who are poor. When we see the needs around us, it's easy to become overwhelmed, and sometimes even feel helpless. "What can one person do?"
Sometimes I've thought about the dream job--working for a foundation that would hire me to give away money to those who need it. What if I had $1,000 a day to distribute to those who were hungry, thirsty, without shelter or other basic necessities of life? I would be much less stingy than I am now when I hear about or see someone in need! It would be easy to be a cheerful giver if I could give away someone else's resources, especially an unlimited supply. This attitude reveals that I don't believe that all that I have is provided by God and belongs to God. Is anything really mine?
Sometimes our fear of running out of money or not saving as much as we think we should keeps us from giving generously. Saint Arsenios of Paros reminds us,
"If you want Christ to bless you and what you have, when you meet some poor individual, who is hungry and asks you for food, give him. Also, when you know that some poor man, or a widow, or an orphan are hungry, do not wait for them to ask you for food, but give them. Give with pleasure, and be not afraid that you will become indigent (destitute). Have faith that Christ invisibly blesses your few possessions, and you shall never starve, nor will you be in want till the end of your life."
This week, let's pray for opportunities to give abundantly. Maybe it's reaching for the largest bill in our wallet instead of the smallest, when approached by someone asking for help. Maybe it's stopping to give a bottle of water to a panhandler rather than praying for the light to turn green. Maybe it's adding an extra zero when donating to a crowdfunding campaign for someone with debilitating medical bills. "God, everything belongs to you. How would you like me to distribute some of your resources this week? With cheerfulness, I believe that you provide abundantly. Help me to do the same."
- written by Timm Wenger