Be a Cheerful Giver of Time and Talents by Jo Russell

“I can’t believe you’re painting this house for free!” Nick commented high on a ladder above Jenny. Normally, the job and the preparation would pay in the four-figure range. As three of them painted–Nick, his wife, Ruth,  plus Jenny–the owner of the house, Norma, was at Mayo Clinic nearly two hundred miles away fighting for her life.

Nick’s wife on a second ladder, turned to see what Jenny would say. They were finishing the paint on the two-story log house in a wooded neighborhood. All expert painters, they knew the paint could not be rolled on or sprayed because of the condition of the house and the curves of the logs. It had to be hand painted with brushes as wide as telephone books.

“I’m not doing it for free. I’m doing it for God!”

Nick laughed out loud. He and Ruth earned their living painting and roofing houses. When their chuckles stopped rocking the two ladders, he said, “Well, I sure hope God is paying you for this!”

“Yep!” Jenny told him, “he already did.”

Jenny explained that a mistake from her mortgage company yielded a large refund windfall the week before. “Besides, God loves cheerful giver! That means my time, too.”

Would Norma survive the cancer? Only God knew. Jenny did know that Norma’s house had to be painted to preserve the dwelling, whether Norma won the battle over cancer or not.

If she didn’t survive, her only child, a grown daughter, Erica, would have less work to get the house ready to sell.

Jenny had handled two family members’ deaths and estates in a year, and then lost the rest of the generation within six months. She knew handling estates is complicated and time-consuming.

“Long distance makes it harder,” Jenny thought as she pictured Erica, who lived thousands of miles away.

Was Jenny a cheerful giver? Yep. She, Nick and Ruth enjoyed the mild spring day in the shade of evergreen trees all afternoon and finished the painting job.

Norma returned from her cancer treatment to a home makeover. Months later, she had recovered to be a part of her daughter’s wedding.

Nick, Ruth and Jenny’s service became an example of God’s provision for others.

Paul writes, “Now he who supplied seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in expressions of thanks to God.” [2 Corinthians 9:10-12]

Just as it takes hard work to make a garden grow and produce, God encourages us to use our skills generously. Jenny didn’t hide hers in tool bucket or a shed full of paint cans. She put her experience and tools to use.

In doing service using our gifts, God’s light shines brightly as a great expression of our faith and thankfulness to the Creator.

Whatever your talents, God will nudge you to use them. See what surprises come from following his way!

Which of your talents can God use?

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from, her speaking engagements and website, Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]