I was minding my own business the other day when someone opened the door for me. “Thank you very much,” I said with an appreciative smile. They smiled back and wished me well. I thought that was considerate since both my hands were full. On the way out I was able to hold the door open for someone else with a smile and it kind of shocked the person. “Oh thank you,” they said but seemed to be deep in an unpleasant thought judging by the look on their face. I carried this goodwill to the gym and held the door open for what I think was an entire class, plus a few hurried people wanting to get in for a quick workout. There were not as many smiles or thank you’s but I still received a few positive reinforcements from my little act of benevolence. However, it all changed when I went for this particular machine I had been waiting to become available. I dismounted the machine I was on, noting no one was vying for the open machine, and staked my claim by setting my bottle of water in the drink holder. I turned to get a paper towel to wipe things down, and there in front of me was an elderly man who said and signaled that this was his machine. Right then all the kindness and generosity of my door opening experiences seemed to leave me and an interesting battle flashed in my mind. I thought, “No way, grandpa. My drink is here and I clearly claimed this machine before you. Come on, let’s be fair. You know I was here first.” But before these words came out my mouth that still, small voice said, “Come on, Mike, who cares. Let this nice, old man take the machine. Be giving, generous, and kind.” So I smiled, took my bottle of water, and went looking for another machine.
As I went to another exercise, I marveled at how stingy I can be not wanting to immediately serve and give even when I have the ability to do so. It set me to notice how there are both givers and takers in this world, and I sure want to be on the generous giver’s side of things. That’s what Jesus did, and as His follower I want to be like Him.
Mark 10:45 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
We live in a world that tends to shape us to be a taker; to look out for yourself because no one else will, to get yours, to feel entitled to have, to come out getting more than the rest, to want more and more regardless of who goes without, to forget about being generous, kind or giving because we have so much less than others, to say when I have just a little bit more then I will be generous with my time, money and kindness. Selfishness and stingy behavior is promoted, taught, and reinforced everywhere we go.
Yet a small act of kindness like opening a door for someone can turn the tides of this “taker-mentality”. I know it did for me. But seriously, where are you? Are you a giver or a taker? What would your honest friends say (maybe take the risk and ask!!)?
Now you may not feel rich, but living in this part of the world we are. Read the Scripture below and ask the Lord to challenge you…
1 Timothy 6:17-19 17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
The word ‘generous’ means to be ready and willing to share liberally. Are you? Do you? For if you do, waiting for you is life, true life…a life of being a joyful generous giver that blesses those around you.
Seeking to be generous like Jesus together with you,