Do you consider yourself a giving person? Would your friends? Your family? God?
I met some kids selling lemonade while riding my bicycle and asked them why they were out there. They replied they were raising money for a friend who was injured playing soccer and his family needed some assistance. I had the chance to help an older lady across a busy intersection near our public library recently. You ever notice how you walk a bit taller after helping someone – not out of pride or self-promotion, but the sheer blessedness of doing the right thing when it is needed? I read about a TV talk show host who offered to pay $16,000 in legal bills for a family who won a court case, but the appeal court overturned the verdict and ordered the family to pay court costs for the opposition. Isn’t it gratifying to hear such stories of generosity? They happen more than we realize and it is still a mark of a great America. It has happened before too.
There is the famous old story of a woman who let her wallet do the talking once – and Jesus happened to be watching that day. Read Mark 12:41-44. There were a lot of rich people around, who seemed to throwing large amounts of money into the temple treasury, much of it to keep or maintain their standing in the community. But in the midst of typically busy day, Jesus observed a poor widow dropping two small coins into the collection basket that weren’t even worth a penny. A skeptic or cynic might ask what difference her two coins could make. Financially not much. But why did Jesus say in 12:43 that, “This poor widow put more into the treasury than all the others?”
The rich folks who made big donations did not really sacrifice much, in light of their overall standard of living. Sure, they made time in their busy schedules to get to the temple and deposit their gift. I bet they didn’t have to think too hard about what they were putting in. They seem to be thinking more about what they could get out of the action – attention, recognition, reputation, and even thanks from the religious leaders.
But the widow gave money that might have affected her ability to eat that day. She was poor and alone, but did not feel sorry for herself. She chose to give. Jesus noted that her giving and caring attitude and spirit counted a lot more than the amount that was dropped into the offering plate. Her example resonated in heaven.
The widow was not looking for attention, community recognition, improved stock portfolios, a pat on the back, or her fifteen minutes of fame. The irony is that no one but Jesus even noticed what she did. But isn’t that what really matters?
Most college students will graduate and get a well paying job, in contrast to most of the people on the planet who exist on less than a few dollars a day. Refuse to listen to the propaganda of our modern culture that says you have a right to enjoy material success. Buy things for their usefulness, not their status. Do not buy clothes to impress people, but impress people with your life. Learn to enjoy things without owning them. Live simple.
In what ways other than financial can you display an attitude and act of giving? What can you give to someone today that would be a sacrifice? Live communally. You are not living if you are not giving. Cultivate a generous spirit because it registers with God.
Love is a verb,