As I have listened to African American preaching, I have been impressed with how frequently I have heard the theme of gratitude that God has given this one day that we are alive. The heart of Christian faith is gratitude. The heart of Christian hope is gratitude. The heart of Christian love is gratitude. The heart of Christian life is gratitude. That gratitude is rooted in a sense that life is a gift, that life is good, that life is worth living.
God’s goodness is the reason to be generous. That conviction does not come from a Pollyanna view of life, from overlooking the difficulties or pretending they do not exist. That conviction comes from a sense that God gives us what is really important, what really matters, what we really need: the sense that life is worth living, that we are here for a purpose, that we are instruments of a loving God. What a difference that can make each day in how we live this life!
Some years ago a member of my family left the Christian faith for another great faith tradition, largely because she did not find, in her Christian experience, much joy in life. How unfaithful we are at times, causing some people to see us Christians as not appreciating and enjoying life.
Our giving is a sign of our joy and gratitude. Our lack of giving is a sign of our lack of joy and gratitude. "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7, NRSV). Eugene Peterson in The Message translates the sentence like this: ‘God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.’”
Ed Taylor is pastor of the First Christian Church, Gibson City, Illinois.
This story is just one of many resources available in the Ecumenical Stewardship Center's Companion Resource featuring the theme “More Than Enough” based on II Corinthians 9:8. The Companion Resource, theme materials, and issue of Giving:Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation are designed to provide congregations with comprehensive, biblically-based materials for their stewardship programs. Visit our web store for more information and to purchase these materials.