Are you a cheerful giver? Do you look for ways to serve others, to give of yourself through your finances, gifts, or time? In our society today I really feel like there are very opposing attitudes towards giving. Especially giving cheerfully. Often it is seen as a wrench to give up what we have for others whom, more often than not, we don’t know. I’ve worked hard for this. I’m entitled to be selfish. What have they done to deserve my money? I just don’t have the time! You catch my drift here? So often we manage to justify our actions and talk ourselves out of generosity.
This, however, is a destructive attitude and fosters an ill spirit within us. Never mind the act of turning a blind eye to people who are in need, or causes that require support. By choosing to ignore the plight of others and build a spirit of selfishness, we destroy our own humanity. Bold words, yes. But they are ones that I am constantly challenged by in my own life. I’m not wealthy in western worldly terms. I live comfortably and know that I have been blessed abundantly. However, I have to work hard to sustain that. And yet, it is the act of cheerful giving that sweetens the blessings I possess. Knowing that I can serve others, with whatever I am able to give, brings such peace and joy into my life. But it’s also one that takes constant nurturing.
It’s a dynamic of the heart
Giving, in any form, cannot be forced. It is something that we have to arrive at organically. Either being led by our beliefs, or by an external circumstance that stirs our conscience. For me, as a believer in Jesus and as a citizen of this world, I am constantly trying to emulate a loving attitude in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These things are all good and pure. Regardless of your own belief system, they should be an integral part of your character-building process. I can’t say I’m perfect at any of them, but they are something to strive for each day.
Recently, I really felt in my heart I had to do something which I could sustain as a regular act of giving. Over the pandemic year we have experienced, it has been incredibly easy to lose focus on others. We have been so isolated in our own worlds, ensuring our own safety, that many of us have forgotten those who are really struggling. So often I would hear stories of people who were in real financial difficulty due to job loss, or health problems. And yet, although my heart would be stirred by the hearing, I would then get distracted and forget to act upon it. Over Christmas, my heart moved me and I remembered that each year I fill a shoebox with gifts for a disadvantaged child. So I did, and I felt pleased that I had done so and been reminded of it.
I wasn’t satisfied though.
However, my spirit within me wasn’t satisfied. Each week as I went for my weekly shop, I was reminded of a simple and effective way to help others. One that I could sustain. In the UK we have Food Bank initiatives that seek to help families or persons who are struggling to put food on the table. During the pandemic, this has reached a fever pitch. Each week I would pay for my groceries, and on the way out of the shop, I’d see the deposit box where the food should be left for the Food Bank. And each week I’d say to myself, Oh I must remember to do that!
Quickly, I was being prompted through the week. I was so conscious that we had been taken care of through this pandemic, but that there were so many people struggling. Struggling for simple everyday items. So I decided to take action and stop forgetting until I was walking out of the shop. So Each week now, I put a bag on the hook of the shopping trolley (shopping cart for our American readers) and pop items in as I go around my normal shop. I aim for around 5 things each week, depending on what they are. After I’ve gone through checkout, I just take them out and put them into the Food Bank box on my way out of the shop.
It may not seem like much, but it is something I do gladly each week and I know I can sustain. It means something to the people who need it too.
To learn more about the Food Bank initiatives, take a look at this website or check out the Trussel Trust, which aims to end the need for Food Banks altogether.
Give what you can
Further to what I have just said, it is important to give what you can. There is no point giving of yourself financially and then regretting your decision because you didn’t think it through properly.
And yet, from my experience, the most generous people I have encountered have been quite poor in worldly terms. On a visit to Malawi in 2007, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with a variety of people who had little but gave abundantly. Being a cheerful giver was a natural part of their lives. They gave what they had, and they gave it gladly. A psychologist, Paul Piff, conducted a study recently in response to Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge, promising to donate half of their money. He found through his research that the poor were inclined to give 44% more of what they had than those who were wealthy. The reason being that those who had felt poverty, were moved to give more generously.
I’m not dismissing the wonderful good that will hopefully be done through the generous giving of the Giving Pledge ($92 billion). Few people would be able to give such a sum. But the quantity isn’t important. It is the heart of the giving and giving what we can, which is important.
In all things be humble.
This all comes back to the spirit in which you give. There’s a little story in the Bible about a poor widow who goes up to the Temple to give to the treasury and she puts in two copper coins. Beside her, are wealthy people flagrantly dropping in large gifts, boasting of their wealth by their actions. She humbly gave all that she had, the others gave only a tiny portion of their wealth, and yet boasted of it mightily.
Give what you can, what you feel led to give, in whatever way that may be. But do it humbly, without pomp and ceremony. Not everyone can afford to give lavishly, but don’t judge others by what they give either. You don’t know their circumstances, or what they may be sacrificing to give what they have. Each must give according to their own conscience, and do so with humility and thanksgiving. Being a cheerful giver means discretely helping those in need and behaving in love towards your community.
It’s not really ours anyway
This may seem like a radical thought, given our society today which orientates itself around possessions and wealth. But it’s true, I believe, none-the-less. Ever heard that phrase you can’t take it with you when you die? How many stories have there been throughout literature that has illuminated characters of ill-repute? Those who have been miserly and selfish and who we’ve loved to condemn? Charles Dickens’s Scrooge comes to mind immediately, possibly as the most famous of them all. And yet, by the end of the story, he has been transformed into the epitome of a cheerful giver, noting the error of his ways. His old colleagues Marley and Marley warned him of their fate, and his, if he didn’t change his ways.
Now, I’m not here to debate with you today about an afterlife, but I am here to point out the joyous transformation that occurred when Scrooge became a cheerful giver and welcomed love into his life. Fictitious character or not, when we learn to give cheerfully in our lives, we welcome in return a deep joy and all sorts of new possibilities too. It warms our hearts knowing that we are doing our part in our families, communities, and wider society. To better it, and the lives of others.
We can’t take our wealth with us when we die, but we can do good with it while we are alive. No matter what we are blessed with, we all have the capacity to be cheerful givers and to help others in our own and unique ways.
On a side note, one of the things this week that prompted me to write about being a cheerful giver was the importance of managing your money. Now, this is entirely your business, but if you find yourself saying things like I just can’t afford to give right now, or I’ll get around to it when… then I encourage you to look at how and where you spend your money. So much of money is frittered away on silly superficial things, or on stuff that we really don’t need. John and I have to be careful how and where we spend our money, for a variety of reasons. We have bills to pay and we have plans for our future. Spending silly money on stuff we can do without is not a good idea.
Sometimes, however, we are just really in a financial pinch. So many of us will be feeling it right now with the pandemic and its effect on the global economy. This is when you can get creative with your giving. It doesn’t have to be financial. You can give of your time, with a gift you possess, or by making food for a stressed-out parent or neighbour. Whatever it may be, there are always people around us who would value our support by the cheerful giving of us.
To go deeper and really learn how to manage yourself and your emotions, John has a full teaching course on special offer just now to all our subscribers. Click here to check it out now.
It really is important!
As you may have gathered, this is something both John and I are passionate about. In the past, we have felt led to give to certain people, events, charities, or fund-raisers because we believed in their cause. Both with our time, gifts, and finances. It doesn’t matter what you give, but I encourage you to take a look at what you have, question what you value in your life, and see if you have the capacity to give. And not just give, but give cheerfully.
Get in touch!
Please comment and share with your valuable input on the subject of being a cheerful giver. It’s such a wide and in-depth topic with so many layers of opinion and circumstance that I couldn’t possibly write about it all. Share your experiences of when you were blessed by another, or if you’ve felt led to give in some way.
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