The Negros Chronicle is a weekly publication published in Negros Oriental province, Philippines, vigilantly featuring the latest news updates around Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental since 1973.

Rewards for giving
by Rev. Dr. Lourdino A. Yuzon

The question that easily comes to mind when we give something of value is this, “What reward awaits me for being generous with all the things of value that I give to others?” Some members of the Christian Church in Corinth may have asked of St. Paul, “If we contribute to your fund drive, will we be rewarded?”

Paul’s answer to such a question embodied what may be called the principle of returns: what you give you will also receive, perhaps many times over. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,” Paul says, “and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (II Cor. 9:6). To be honest, I am suspicious of this statement even if it came from St. Paul. It raises this difficult question, “For Christians like you and me, is self-interest a worthy motive for giving?” But we cannot ignore Paul’s “loaded” statement. So how do we flesh out the meaning of what Paul says here. I think Paul’s statement on the principle of returns challenges us to look for proper ways of understanding our motives for giving something of value to others or in support of worthy causes.

First, Paul is here describing a law of nature: we reap what we sow. It is a fact that if a farmer uses a miserly approach to farming, he will limit the harvest, and takes measures accordingly. Jesus himself said, “The measure you will give will be the measure you will get” (Matthew 7:2). At one time, Jesus’ disciples asked him whether their decision to sacrifice everything for his sake would be futile. Jesus did not rebuke them for their display of self-seeking. He said that they would be rewarded “a hundred fold” not only in the future but also “now in this time” (Mark 10:30). Even a cup of water they gave to the needy would not be forgotten (Matthew 10:42).

There is a moral order in the world in which selfishness is judged and altruism is rewarded. In this morally ordered world, the “natural expectation” for some sort of fair reward in return for generous intentions and deeds has its rightful place and that in the interest of justice there should be a fair compensation for work well done.

If we say with Paul that the law of returns makes sense in our morally ordered world, we should hasten to add that Jesus also said that genuine love and generosity cannot always be done for the sake of returns that are similar return to those gifts. Now this is an important reminder because of the everpresent danger of reducing acts of genuine giving into a commercial transaction with God.

This brings us to the second type of reward for acts of generosity. More often than not, the rewards we receive may not be of a similar kind. That is, we give money, but the rewards may be something other than money. For instance, the real rewards for our generosity to others may not be an increase in our bank account. Rather, it is an exponential growth of our generous spirit. When we love others, they may not love us in return. But the real reward is our increased capacity to love.

The real reward for doing a good deed without expecting anything in return is an expansive growth of our altruistic spirit that makes free from bondage to self-centeredness. The joy of giving is in itself life’s priceless gift to the giver. As Charles Spurgeon aptly puts it, “What I spent I had, what I saved I lost, what I gave I have.”







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