This is the fourth of Fr. Stanley Harakas' meditations on Christian stewardship. I found this one particularly effective as he speaks eloquently about "cheerful giving." Of note is how Fr. Harakas equates giving in return to God as a way of discovering our humanity.
Give from joy (II COR. 9:7), or "Give merrily." The key word is "merry" or "joyous," in the original "hilarion." One invariably gives happily from a consciousness awash in the glad tidings that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (II COR. 5:19). To know the Lord removes all reluctance and constraint for he is the great treasure and ample food. Note how St. Paul changed Proverbs 22:9, from "God 'blesses' ... to "God" 'loves' a cheerful giver."
"Note, also, the imperative, or normative "ought" language. What is normally not thought of as something that can be willed and made to occur - joy - is nevertheless commanded. How can this be? Ethically, the opposite of giving joyfully is to give with reluctant sadness. Giving becomes an unpleasant duty, fulfilled because somehow the stewardship giver is psychologically, morally, or spiritually coerced into giving. Clearly for the Christian such giving "ought not" to be associated with stewardship. Giving to the church "ought" rather to be perceived as a privilege and an opportunity to express one's faith in the loving and blessing God, and therefore an ethical act. Cheerful giving implies that the giver is happy and eager and fully willing to be a part of the effort to do the work of the Lord in the church. Genuine stewardship giving is fulfilling and satisfying and so produces a sense of well-being and emotional and spiritual fitness. Authentic stewardship giving is rewarding in its wholesomeness. To give as God gives is to become more human, more of what God has created human beings to be. To be an unconstrained and authentic steward is to incorporate giving into wholeness of the Christian life growing toward God-likeness."