The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9:7b) There are inmates here at the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp whom God really loves. One of them is Andy, my cellmate. For all of his faults, and he has many as do I, he is a generous giver and he is a cheerful giver.
We have been cellmates for over a year now, and I have watched him generously give to inmates who are in need. He gives candy, cookies, honey buns, aspirin, allergy medications and other items to inmates who are hungry or sick.
I have watched him give cough drops and throat lozenges and provide other help to those suffering colds or the flu. Many times he has not been asked for help. He just cheerfully volunteers. When Andy sees a need he jumps in and volunteers to help.
And he never expects to be repaid for his acts of kindness and charity. Many times the recipients of his generosity have come to repay the favors they have received. I have seen him refuse to accept repayment. He just tells them to forget about it. He is a far, far better man than I am.
The rest of 2 Corinthians 9:7 reads; “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion. That’s Andy. He gives and he does not make you feel guilty about asking for his help.
And then there is Thomas (not his real name). Thomas is a mooch. He never gives anyone anything. No matter what you ask him for, he does not have it. And he complains about those who come to him asking for favors. He criticizes them. He says things like: “I don’t have enough for myself.” Or: “I work hard to get what I have and I am not going to give it away for free.” Or: “I don’t have enough to give out.”
Thomas is a cheap and stingy man. But he is also a beggar. He constantly is in my face asking for things. May he borrow a bag of popcorn, some stamps and envelopes, some cough drops and other things. He makes me unhappy to see him coming in my direction.
I have never asked him for anything. I have never asked any of the guys in my dormitory for anything. But Thomas makes a living out of “borrowing.” I use the word “borrow” loosely. His idea of borrow, is give me something and I will never repay it but I will be back to get something else.
He has never repaid anything he “borrowed” from me. And he is not embarrassed by that fact either.
Then there is Ray (his real name). A few months after I arrived here at the prison I got into an argument with some loudmouth show-off. I was not worried about the guy but Ray silently supported me. He also started asking me for things after this. Things like sweetener, coffee, coffee creamer and popcorn. I did not mind and I never expected to be repaid.
But I was repaid. Ray started coming back to my cell and offering me things. Things like chicken, roast beef, roast pork and other items.
What a difference between Ray and Thomas. Ray gives when he can. As a result it’s a pleasure to give something to him. Thomas never gives anything to anybody. But he always has his hand out. People like Thomas make it hard to be a Christian. When he asks for something, you feel he is taking advantage of you. You give it to him because that is the Christian thing to do. And “God loves a cheerful giver.” Then you have to just grin and bear it.
Note: Biblical verses from The Holy Bible; Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition.
I am serving a 46 month sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Atlanta, GA for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed direct to:
FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D
PO Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315