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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Today’s Reading | 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your 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 by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (NRSV)

Chris Rock has a wonderful line about how a boss paying minimum wage is really saying, “I’d like to pay you less, but it’s against the law.” Funny, but painfully close to the mark. The boss is not being generous; the boss is legally compelled to meet wage standards. The boss has to do it; desire never enters into it.

The point of this passage is not difficult to find. The author provides a very helpful indicator, namely the phrase “The point is this.” And the point is a matter of common sense: stingy people see very little return. If you don’t invest, you don’t get anything back. Basic rule of finance. It’s also a basic rule of humanity, of living our faith: if you want to see a better world, you need to give, and simply parting with something is not enough. You have to be willing, to be cheerful about it.

Cheerful willingness removes compulsion. In Pearl Buck’s story, “Christmas Day in the Morning,” a young boy has to be pulled out of bed every morning to do the milking on his family’s farm. On Christmas, he decides to get up and do it before anyone else is awake, as a gift for his father. He does the same thing that he does every morning--the only thing that is different is him, his willingness and joy in doing it. And when the father gets up and finds the work already done, that investment of joy is returned to his son.

The point is this: if we don’t give of ourselves to make a better world, we won’t get to live in one. That means money and time and attention and respect. It means giving with a will and a joy in giving, because that is an investment in the joy and dignity and all-around quality of life for everyone. It’s the most concrete and tangible way to show the value of our fellow humans.

Lord, the opportunities for generosity are before us every day. Remind us of how rich we are and that we can always give to others, willingly, cheerfully, with gratitude for the generosity you have shown us. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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