We encourage giving. All giving. If a can of soup shows up in an empty pantry, we consider it mission accomplished. After all, it doesn’t really matter how it got there or who gave it, does it?
The other day I witnessed a exchange that I’ve seen a hundred times, usually with my own children. I was at a bank and the teller offered the little girl in front of me a lollipop. She accepted and then piped up, “Can I have one to take home for my sister?”
Charming, thoughtful and sweet. But just as I was about to congratulate the mother, she corrected her. “Honey, if you think your sister would like a sucker, give her yours. Don’t take from someone else and call it a gift.”
Was This Woman Crazy?
It sure sounded like it. Who corrects their child when they are being nice to their sister? By limiting the girl to one lollipop the mother was almost guaranteeing that her other daughter wouldn’t get one. What would it hurt to take an extra home?
But the more I’ve thought through her response the more I appreciated the principle she was advocating.
If You Think Someone Should Have Something – Give Them Yours
We used to have neighbors who borrowed our pick-up and tools frequently and we were glad to help them out. Then one day they mentioned that our pick-up had gone to a town an hour away because their family member had a job installing windows and needed a bigger truck to carry the materials. One day we learned that the tile saw they were borrowing wasn’t being used in their own house but had been passed on to someone at their work without our permission.
I’m sure they meant well, but was it right for them to take the credit for the generosity when it cost them nothing? If they’d wanted to rent a truck for their brother, they were free to do so. If they wanted to invest in their own equipment and loan it to friends, they could have afforded it.
And I’m Just as Guilty.
How many times have I told someone about a great cause before I’ve written a check myself? How many times have I passed on prayer requests when I’d failed to pray over the situation that day? Sometimes it’s hard to judge our hearts, but if the teller at the bank is only giving you one lollipop, what you do with it is a good test.
The Only Gifts You Can Give are the Ones that Belong to You
Maybe if we’d stop trying to get our hands in other’s pocketbooks…if we’d stop waiting on the rich, the church, or the government to step in… maybe we’d see the potential of the resources God has trusted to us. Ultimately, that’s what we’re going to give an account for – what we gave ourselves, not what we redistributed between two other parties.
Do you agree? Would you ever stop a child from taking extra to give to friends? How would you apply this principle?