Have you ever had a concept keep recurring, manifesting itself in several different ways, within a short period of time – so often that you realize it cannot be simple coincidence? The messages are coming at you so loud and clear, you cannot ignore them – and yet you aren’t certain of what you’re supposed to be doing with this message? This has happened to me this entire week. What is this concept?
Giving with no return
Most of us know we should be giving to those in need. And we do try. But, often it is with the expectation that our kind deed will be reciprocated, or that our deed will be noticed by God and man. Last weekend, a conversation with a loved one led me to recognize this praise-seeking type of giving. We were discussing this "truly wonderful, giving person" - a woman who does missionary work. She travels to third world countries, giving of her time and money and energy and nearly boasting (or at least brimming with pride) of what she does, reveling in the praise she received from others. Yet, when she was home, and a family member was within a few minutes' drive from her and in desperate need of some compassion and love, she was too busy or tired to be bothered to visit.
Giving should not be done with the intention of gaining favor with God or man
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)
A good example of this sort of giving was shown to me just a few days ago. A mother whom I know and spend time with during basketball and softball games approached me. She knew my son had broken his glasses pretty bad a few weeks ago, and that these glasses were being held together by glue/putty/whatever we could find until we can afford to replace them. She informed me that her optometrist wanted to give my child a free exam and pair of glasses and that she would make the appointment and bring him to it. I was to do nothing. She took no credit for this good deed – simply claimed to be the messenger.
Giving should not be done with the expectation of repayment
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)
Another display of generosity happened to me a couple nights ago. The past couple days, we’d been dealing with a major leak in one of our pipes, rendering our tub/shower unusable. A friend with the knowledge and ability to fix it, showed up without question to fix it, and refused payment for his services.
Earlier this week, I was drawn to a YouTube video of the show “What Would You Do?” This is a show in which they have actors conducting a scene in the real world to see how normal people respond. The specific scenario I was drawn to was of a woman with an EBT card (food stamps), who gets to the checkout and is informed she doesn't have enough funds on her card to pay for the food (check it out: WWYD: Food Stamps Mother). I was in tears as I watched people - many who probably could barely afford their own groceries - help this woman out, knowing they would never see their money again.
The people in the video, just like the mother and optometrist, and the friend who worked on my house, gave freely, knowing they would not be paid back. They gave because they saw someone in need, and had the ability to help the person. They gave in true Christian fashion – something we should all be doing.
Take time to remember the good deeds others have done for you
A couple nights ago, as if God was demanding I really take note of the events which had transpired this week, my Bible Study lesson centered on this same theme. We’re working on a study called "Doing Good" and that night, it focused on good works that come from having the light of Christ within us. Our first discussion question was to name a time when someone sacrificially did something good for us. Another topic that came up was those who do good from the heart, and those who do good just to try to, essentially, earn their way into heaven. Basically - the entire discussion revolved around the events I had experienced and witnessed throughout the week, and events like this which the other women have experienced.
Stories of truly giving people filled the room, and warmed my heart… Stories of older siblings giving up their free-time to care for younger siblings in a time of need without grumbling; stories of parents who sacrificed time and money to help their children grow in faith; stories of friends who lent money and never expected repayment; stories of strangers offering a helping hand; stories of friends and family staying up late at night to comfort the hurting and distressed.
The people who did these good deeds serve as an example for all of us. This is how we should be. If we see someone in front of us in the checkout, who is short a few dollars – help her out. If we see someone just in need of a hug, or a shoulder to cry on, we should stop and be there. If we see a family struggling to get everything done, we should be there to support them however we can. And we should do it all without expectation of anything in return.
May God bless you all, and guide you as you do something good with no return.