‘Cheerful’ giving

No matter what the state of one’s finances may be, cultivating a selfless, giving heart is natural for all of God’s children.

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Black Friday 2018 is in the books. So are Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. And today – for those who still have money to spend after this trifecta of shopping days, as someone recently quipped – we come to Giving Tuesday, a global movement encouraging charitable giving.

It’s a noble concept. A generous spirit is well worth nurturing every day. There’s a Bible passage that expresses this beautifully: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).

I’ve always loved this idea, partly because it’s so inclusive – for “every” one, all of mankind, or humanity – and especially because it places such value on the spirit with which we give. In fact, there’s no emphasis at all on the quantity or monetary value of what’s being given. Rather, it points to the idea that no matter what the circumstances – our financial situation, how much spare time we have, where in the world we’re located – we can all cherish a giving spirit.

Some years ago, a desire to make a financial contribution to an organization that I felt was meaningful and important became stressful. I had felt genuinely inspired to give in this way, but now I worried about giving “too little” in the eyes of whoever would process the donation and about disadvantaging myself by giving “too much,” if I were to give more.

After a couple of days with lots of fretting (and no giving), it occurred to me that at that point, no matter what I gave, I certainly wasn’t being a “cheerful giver”!

I thought of another Bible verse that relates to giving: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). This statement by Christ Jesus strikes me as a command as well as a promise. Jesus’ teachings and healing works reveal that God is good and that His love fills all space, embracing all creation, because God is limitless Love itself. Each of us receives the innumerable spiritual blessings that God, good, loads us with (see Psalms 68:19) – such as love, harmony, abundance, joy.

So that’s the promise for all of us, for right now and forever. As Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science and founder of the Monitor, writes, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. vii).

And Jesus’ command is to give, to express love outwardly to one another. It’s actually natural for one to do this – and to enjoy doing so! Since love’s source, God, is infinite, we always have enough love to express. It’s simply how we’re made, as the reflection of inexhaustible Love. Science and Health explains, “Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us” (p. 79).

As I mentally paused to think about all this, I saw that my self-involved approach was inconsistent with my true identity. Each of us is the spiritual expression of God’s love and goodness, which blesses all and inspires in us the desire to bless others in turn and to give.

The burden I’d been feeling lifted, and shortly thereafter I felt inspired to donate a particular amount, which ended up being just right. Most important, though, what I learned in this experience has helped me give – love, joy, kindness – more freely and cheerfully.

No matter what the state of one’s finances may be, cultivating a selfless, giving heart is natural, because we reflect God, the Giver of boundless good to all. And opportunities abound for each of us to give joyfully, meaningfully, and appropriately – today and every day.

Adapted from a Christian Science Perspective article published Sept. 24, 2015.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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