Pete Greig recounts the tale of a beggar who sees a golden carriage approaching from afar ‘like a gorgeous dream.’ Realizing that it is the carriage of the king, the beggar prays for riches. This, he believes, is the greatest opportunity of his life. Sure enough, the carriage stops where the beggar stands and the king climbs out with a smile. But then, the strangest thing happens: The king stretches out his empty hand and asks the beggar, ‘What have you to give me?’ Confused and uncertain, the beggar reaches into his bag and takes out a grain of corn – only one, and the smallest. Is this a joke? Slowly, he places it in the king’s palm. At the end of the day, when the beggar empties his bag on the floor, he is surprised to discover a single grain of pure gold – but only one, and the smallest. ‘I bitterly wept,’ the beggar said, ‘and wished that I had the heart to give my all.’
Are you generous? Am I? Is it important? I think so. Sir Winston Churchill wrote, ‘We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.’ Do you agree?
Sue and I have been blessed to know so many generous people. Two come to mind immediately. Their names are Paul and Karen, both business people, both very successful in their respective field. One day Paul announced that he was going to Ghana to help paint an orphanage. It amused me as I’d never seen Paul with a paint brush in his hand, as he always paid for people to paint his home. When he returned he couldn’t stop talking about the conditions these precious little ones lived in. It got under his skin so much he decided to do something about it. For the next few years he and his wife returned to the same little village to paint, build, garden, you name it and they engaged in it. Today those children live in new homes that are warm and welcoming, their diet has changed out of all recognition. They are able to attend school. Why? Because busy people cared enough to give of themselves and their resources.
So how about us? Who or what are we going to invest in? Perhaps we won’t travel thousands of miles to help complete strangers, but what about the person living around the corner who lives on their own or the young mum who’s spinning a 101 different plates, can we help them? As Sally Koch writes ‘Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.’ Let me give you an example of what I mean. When our children were little, Margaret who was in her 80’s used to come to our home every week and do the ironing for us. She was an amazing woman, generous people usually are!
As a Christian our supreme example is of course Jesus. The Bible tells us that ‘He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ So if we want to be like Jesus we need to live generous selfless lives; He leaves us with no alternative.
I remember hearing somewhere, ‘If you want to be like Jesus, forget about yourself and live for others! Don’t pray for a generous heart, practise being generous… and your heart will follow.’
Sounds like good advice. So let’s think about who we can help today then go ahead and do it with gusto, for none of us want to end up like the beggar I referred to earlier.
All the best