By Walt Walton
There are so many ways in life we can sow goodness: by giving words of encouragement; sharing good advice; spending quality time with others; choosing to live with tenderness. This tenderness—a sort of expression of love and care—is a matter of choice. We can give as misers, begrudging and complaining. Or we can choose, in Christ, to be cheerful givers.
This idea to give cheerfully and wholeheartedly aligns with Jesus’ words about the “greatest command.” He tells the teachers of his day that the great command is to love God and then love people. With all we’ve got—and that would include, I think, a cheerfulness. A joy. A hope. We don’t do these things with forlorn hearts, but with hearts made alive in the very act of conforming to their transformed design—to love others. Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t simply give a command and walk away. No, he pours out gifts on us, allowing us to produce a spiritual flourishing through utilizing good gifts and making the most of every opportunity.
Recently, I experienced this—God providing an opportunity, a choice, and then the means by which I could obey. It was a regular day and I was running a run-of-the-mill errand; I was taking our family’s spare change to the store to get cash. Another man was also having a regular day: he was standing at a red light holding a sign that read “Anything Helps. God Bless.”
Opportunity was there before me. Choice was too. Most importantly, God’s Spirit stirred. God’s goodness doesn’t miss breakfast, so neither did we. The man eagerly joined me that morning, and, as we ate, I got to pray for him and then he allowed me to read I Peter 1:3-10. Those words were the real blessing, but I gave him the coins I had planned to cash on the way out. Though my bank was now empty, my heart was full. The heart of a cheerful giver redoubles in cheer—my heart was full of joy.
As we enter the season of Lent, we allow for the reminder that God has gifted us. Beyond just “Anything Helps,” God has blessed us with everything we need—life in and through his Son. The Son of Man came to serve, and not only do we leave blessed, he lets us walk away with the change—true life change and a heart more like his.
This Easter season, let us rejoice in the gift, and, out of that gift, give freely and cheerfully.