A Cheerful Giver of Time
When you think about being a cheerful giver we often think about money, and to be sure being a cheerful giver includes money. Have you ever thought about being a cheerful giver as it relates to the concept of doing good works? Not everyone has a lot of money to give, but everyone has time to give to those in need.
Time is often wasted in our contemporary society. We spend hours online binge-watching episodes of the newest fade television series, and even more time scrolling through social media only to find out what people ate for dinner. We keep very busy, but we accomplish very little at the end of the day. That’s where today’s readings inspire us to a better use of our time.
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. – 2nd Corinthians 9.6-11
The Lord said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." – Matthew 5.14-19
It is clear from the larger context of his letter that St Paul is speaking of financial giving in this passage, but taken in conjunction with today’s Gospel lesson about good works, why not think about becoming cheerful givers of our time?
How often do we check our watch when we are with someone as if we have something better to be doing at that moment? In that moment, we are telling the person with us that they do not matter. It is subtle, but it is there. Why else would we worry about the clock? Agreed, we may have another appointment, and I’m not suggesting here that we abandon the sense of time or time management, but if the time we spend with someone is not the most important time in that moment, we are not being cheerful givers of our time.
Look again today’s Gospel lesson. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” When we give time to others in need, especially when that time is not distracted time with watch-checking etc., we are showing others they are important. They are important enough that we are giving them our time, and they will thank God for the time we offer them if it is generous.
There are so many ways we can give our time to others. Does your church have a soup kitchen? Volunteer time to prepare or serve the food. Is there a homeless shelter in your city? Stop by and offer some time to help. Does your elderly neighbor need her weeds pulled, or leaves raked? Knock on her door and offer to help. Did someone in the parish just have a baby? Call and offer to cook a meal for the family. It isn’t always about what you do, it is about the time you give to do it. When you give your time with a cheerful heart, then you will be blessed, “For God loves a cheerful giver.”
There is one final way we can all give more time and give it cheerfully. We can pray more, and we can pray for those in need. Spend a little less time (or a lot less time) on social media, and a little more time praying and helping others. It goes a long way in helping others give thanks to God.