Haven’t you ever noticed how people who give of their time, especially to those in need, say that they get more out of it than what they give? Is that just a nice cliché or is it really true? If it is true, how so? What do they mean by that anyway?
First of all, we know that nobody can outdo God in generosity. The Bible says, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). God is very generous to us. We look around and see the things that we have “earned”, but forget the fact that God gave us the ability to even earn a living. Every breath we take is a gift from God. The talents we have, the health we do enjoy, and the relationships that help us grow, are all gifts from God. That alone should be enough, but God does not stop there. He gave us the Eucharist, Confession and all the sacraments. God created all these to be an experience of His grace. Ultimately, He died on the Cross for us to save us from our sins.
These are all graces before we even give back to God. He gives them freely to us. Volunteering is a way of spending time with God. Jesus said, “The least you have done unto my brethren, you have done unto me” (Mt 25:40). In volunteer work, we are associating ourselves with Jesus. It is a way in which we spend time with Jesus. If we are attentive to the still small voice of Jesus when we do His work, in a certain sense, He whispers in our ear His wisdom. We start to grow and understand things the way He does. We can start to understand that generosity and self-giving is not a weakness, but a strength. We can become more reconciled with our neighbor and peace can fill our soul. Sometimes God gives us tangible gifts, but it is mostly the intangible graces that make a difference in our lives.
Nobody likes a grumpy giver. The Bible says, “For God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Gratitude is the most important disposition we can have in order to benefit from the giving that we do. It is the doorway in which we can get all the gifts He wants to give us. Being grumpy is hardly a way to receive joy, peace, wisdom, maturity, humility, self-control or any gift from God. Gratitude is the proper attitude that allows us to receive those gifts.
So what are you grateful to God for? What would you like to do to thank God for those gifts?