The Test of a Cheerful Giver
And it all started with “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Bear with me.
I wanted to know the “real” meaning of the verse and went to the source of all knowledge of such things, Google. My friend Google led me to an article “You Can Be a Cheerful Giver” because, let’s face it, for me, giving generally isn’t a “cheerful” experience. I love the thought of giving, I can clearly see all the good money can do, but somehow I am not really wired to “cheerfully give.”
Claiming that I could indeed become a cheerful giver, I decided to take a test to assess my Money Personality (who knew?). I’m a total sucker for these kinds of things. I’ve taken the Enneagram (I think I’m a 3), Meyer’s Briggs (ENFJ anyone?), and StrengthsFinder (so long ago, I forget what/who I am). So I took the Money Personality Test only to find – surprise! – I’m a “saver” and “security seeker.” If I answered the questions differently, I could have been a risk taker, spender, or a flyer (someone who is relationship oriented with money).
To get the full assessment – am I surprised? – will cost me a mere $19.99. Ah, the price for telling me the obvious.
What this test did reveal is that we all don’t view money in the same way. I have friends who think nothing of carrying huge balances on their credit cards. I also have friends who are willing to invest in the next big thing. Some of my friends love to lavish gifts on people. It’s a fact – from person to person, we view money differently.
But back to “God loves a cheerful giver.” And how we (I mean I) can get there.
Thanks to Google, I also stumbled upon an article by Walter Brueggemann, a preeminent Old Testament scholar. In 1999, Brueggemann wrote an essay for the Christian Century, “The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity.” His words are powerful, even today:
“We who are now the richest nation are today's main coveters. We never feel that we have enough; we have to have more and more, and this insatiable desire destroys us. Whether we are liberal or conservative Christians, we must confess that the central problem of our lives is that we are torn apart by the conflict between our attraction to the good news of God's abundance and the power of our belief in scarcity -- a belief that makes us greedy, mean and unneighborly. We spend our lives trying to sort out that ambiguity.”
And this, “Wouldn't it be wonderful if liberal and conservative church people, who love to quarrel with each other, came to a common realization that the real issue confronting us is whether the news of God's abundance can be trusted in the face of the story of scarcity?”
The admonishment to be a “cheerful giver” can only come out of our understanding that we are a people who are called to the abundant life – and not a life of scarcity. As Brueggemann continues, “Our world absolutely requires this news. It has nothing to do with being Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, socialists or capitalists. It is much more elemental: the creation is infused with the Creator's generosity, and we can find practices, procedures and institutions that allow that generosity to work.”
Brueggemann’s piece has helped remind me that obsession with money – either obtaining it or hoarding it – denies the fact that we are called to be a people who claim abundance for all. When we recognize all that we’ve been given by the Creator – Oh. My. Goodness. – giving can come from a deep and wonderful place of joy.
You don’t need a test to know that.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She wastes precious time taking Facebook quizzes like, “Can You Identify Every Disney Prince?” She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at email@example.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.