This morning, I paid $76.54 for an unknown woman’s groceries. She didn’t have enough money at the register so I told her I’d take care of the whole thing for her.
I don’t tell you this so you’ll pat me on the back and think that I’m some spectacular generous person.
Rather, I feel anything but, because of the things that led up to it.
About a month ago, I was watching a you-tube video about a man that donated a kidney to his wife’s friend. Wow! I can understand donating a kidney to your wife, or one of your kids, but I sat there in awe, thinking how I would never consider giving my wife’s friend a kidney. Shameful, I know.
Then I had a plane trip. My seat was upgraded to first class because of frequent flyer miles. I stood in line waiting to be boarded, with my hectic schedule flying through my mind. A soldier stood a couple yards in front of me. Then I heard the woman between us ask him where his seat was. He told her middle back, and then commented about how fun it was going to be on such a full plane. She quickly traded him seats, giving him her first class seat. Callous, right?
The next week, my 9 year old daughter was invited to a birthday party. On the invitation, the little girl asked that instead of a present, that a donation be made to be given to a small city in Mexico that needed a well for clean water. The thought never even crossed my mind. Terrible.
And just the other day, I was having dinner at a restaurant and saw two missionaries there. I didn’t know their religion. Then I saw an elderly couple walk up to them and pay for their dinner. Humbled by degrees.
So, this morning, when I was standing in line at the grocery store, and the woman in front of me pulled out several different cards, trying to pay for her formula and baby diapers, I jumped at the opportunity to reclaim my dignity. I didn’t offer to just pay for what she lacked, I paid for her entire cart full and then just smiled as she thanked me profusely.
I have been mulling these experiences over in my mind and I wanted to share with you the main lessons that I think I learned through this.
1. I need to be open and alert to others needs. Half of helping is recognizing that there is a need.
2. I need to be more creative in my giving. It isn’t always about money.
3. I need to be more generous, even when it’s not convenient. Especially when it’s not convenient.
4. I need to be quick to give, ready in an instant to be kind. If not, the opportunity may just pass me by.
Tim Keller says, “Living is giving. We live life best when we give ourselves, our resources, our competencies, and our time in service to others… If you spend your money on yourself, you are just surviving. But if you want your life to count, if you really want to live – give.”
Ron Anderson says, “We thought that financial freedom came from accumulating as much as we could and if we gave more away, we would have less to enjoy. In reality, the more we gave, the more we enjoyed and the more freedom we experienced.”
Lynne Payne says, “I have discovered an excitement in giving that’s unique and distinct from every other gift. It’s ironic that in separating myself from something of value, I receive back something of even greater value. It’s a great way to do life.”
I encourage us all (myself included) to give generously and live generously.
And next time when a body part is needed, or a courtesy is granted, or help is offered, or relief is given, I hope it’s me that’s doing the giving, instead of the watching.