Anthony D. Mello tells the following story: a monk in his travels once found a precious stone and kept it. One day he met a traveler and when the monk showed his bag to share his provisions with them, the traveler saw the jewel and asked the monk to give it to him. The monk did so readily. The traveler departed, overjoyed with the unexpected gift of the precious stone that was enough to get him wealth and security for the rest of his life. However, a few days later he came back in search of the monk, found him, gave him back the stone, and entreated him. Now give me something much more precious than this stone, valuable as it is. Give me that which enabled you to give it to me.
As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I have been thinking about the gift of generosity. All of us would like to think that we are generous, but we may sometimes be more takers than givers! The Lord Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This is the blessing the traveler discovered. There is something more valuable than our possessions. How we handle money and our resources is a significant indicator of our character. Dealing with our money forces us to look at our values, our priorities, and our loves.
As a little boy I remember my dad explaining the special blessing of giving. I must say I didn’t really understand what he was saying. At that age I very much preferred to receive than to give! But as I have grown older I have become more and more generous. We have all met people who are miserly, and who find their security in holding tightly their possessions. On the other hand, we have met people who hold what they have with open hands, and joyfully give to others.
Think of the dramatic change in our world if all of us acted generously and graciously towards others rather than having a spirit of selfishness. This season look for opportunities to be generous. By that I mean don’t just be generous to yourself! Be generous to others – particularly to those in need. The paradox is that those who give often seem to be those who have more, while the takers are never satisfied. Solomon writes: “One gives freely yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”
What a difference even a small gift can make to a child, a stranger, or someone in need. The living God is a giving God. The Bible says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Receive this free gift of eternal life, and then be like God! Give! Give generously and graciously, and be blessed!