Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reminder From Jacob: On Generosity

Reminder from Jacob: On Living Generously

It was right after Christmas and Jacob wanted a piece of the chocolate his mom had received as a gift. So she gave him one, but then quickly encouraged him to share with his Auntie Shawna who was there for a visit.

Jacob, just a little over 2 years old at the time, looked at his piece of chocolate and then at his Aunt and very deliberately raked his little fingernail over the candy, managing to catch just the barest sliver under his nail. He held it out to Shawna and asked, “Baby bite?”

Oh how I laughed…until I thought about me! If I am not careful, and prayerful, I can be just about as generous with “my stuff” as Jacob was with his chocolate.

I know who the generous people are in my life; I want to be more like them. My mother-in-law was one of them. Not only did she share her passion for Jesus with me, (She was on a spiritual journey and was determined to drag me along with her!) but she was always giving me beautiful things. It has been years since she went to be with her Beloved, and still her many gifts to me remain treasured possessions.

My friends Waneta and Jayne are generous, as well. One day I told Waneta how much I liked her sandals and she took them off and gave them to me. Jayne did the same thing with a scarf she was wearing one Sunday morning. (I was doing so well there for a while that I tried telling another friend how much I liked her new car…but all she said was, “Thanks. Wanna go for a ride?”)

Jacob, with his coveted chocolate, reminded me that God has called His children to live generously. I do many things without a second thought…giving is not one of them. In fact, in order to hold myself accountable for tithing, I asked our treasurer just to take my tithe and building fund out of my paycheck, then, I reasoned with myself, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

It worked well for me, until someone pointed out that by doing that I was not modeling tithing to those who were watching my leadership. Oh, rats! He was right. Not only that, I thought, but by doing it that way, it was no longer a sacrifice of thanksgiving or something I did because I wanted to be obedient, and generous, out of love for my Father. Instead, it was as though it became nothing more than obedience out of obligation…that is not generosity.

No one has to remind me how much “stuff” I have, because it is sitting in boxes all around me. I confess, I don’t “live simply” as stated in the Brethren in Christ Core Values, instead “I brake for Garage Sales!”

This past Christmas, while entertaining a house full of company, I proudly remarked that almost everything in my beautifully decorated living room had been purchased at yard sales. Sure, I can use other people's cheap junk to pull together the eclectic look that I like, but I stopped short at the thought that, no matter how inexpensively I bought it for or how good it looks in my house, IT’S STILL JUST STUFF! And I can live with a lot less of it!

I trust that, as Jacob grows up and matures, he will become a generous little boy and compassionate and giving man, and I especially pray that his “gam-ma” will be a good example for him to follow. Now that’s something to think about!