I think many of us really bristle at the idea of giving….I’m not talking about buying Christmas presents or Birthday gifts, that’s “fun” giving that most people enjoy. I’m thinking about Sacrificial Giving….giving that costs you something dear, and gets you nothing (at least here in this life) in return.
The other day, I took the girls to the grocery store with me. They were especially helpful, no arguments happened, very little begging went on, and no displays of canned corn got knocked down…so as a reward I bought my little helpers two suckers each. Nothing fancy, just a couple of $.15 suckers. But suckers are something of a rare treat in our family, so they were very excited.
In the car on the way home, Middle Child suddenly announced that she planned to give one of her suckers to her brother, and one to his friend. They were at home playing with Legos, so they’d missed out on the treats. I was touched, her generosity has always been one of the things I love about her. I praised her for her kind thought, and then…casually….mentioned that if Big Sister gave away her suckers, then she’d have no candy left for herself. A few moments passed, the car was quiet. I waited (a bit anxiously) for Youngest to process this thought, to see what she’d say.
“If Sarah has no suckers and I have two, then I can give her one of mine! Then we’ll both have one sucker!”
Success! I praised both girls again for their kind spirits, and we pulled into the garage. The girls jumped out of the car and I unloaded the bags of groceries, feeling quite proud of my little givers.
As I was putting away the food, however, Middle child came sobbing into the kitchen.
“She stole my gift!” she managed to get out, through tears.
Youngest, in her excitement over giving, had run downstairs before her sister and given her two suckers away first! Poor Sarah, her little heart was broken because her gift has been usurped. She had been looking so forward to sharing those suckers, and to have that pleasure taken away was more than she could take.
After a long talk and some heartfelt apologies, Youngest went down to tell the boys that sharing the suckers had been her sister’s idea. A little later, sisterly love was tested yet again when Youngest realized that now her sister had two suckers and she had none…although everyone agreed that it was her own fault. Middle Child, true to form, gave her sister a sucker and there was peace for the rest of the afternoon.
It made me think about how I give. Am I excited by giving? Do I do it, as my girls did…with a cheerful heart? If someone else stepped in and offered to give in my place, would I be disappointed? Or would I jump at the opportunity to keep that gift for myself?
Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, writes:
2 Corinthians 9:1 (NIV) There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV) Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Lord, let me learn to be a cheerful giver, to love the act of giving so much that I would weep if someone were to “steal my gift”. Let me rejoice in the act of giving, remembering that You gave everything….everything! To me. Amen!