Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Luke 6:38 (NIV)
Do you ever wake up, and your heart is filled with so much joy it pours out of your eyes? You can inhale the fresh air and become intoxicated with all the blessings and beauty surrounding you. You can feel overwhelming bliss, love, gratitude, humility, generosity, and definitely unworthiness all rolled into one emotion, one reason, one name: God, our Father Almighty. I do some mornings – but not as often as I should, which is every morning I’m given.
When I was eight, my parents took my sister and me shopping at W.T. Grant’s Department Store. We’d learned not to nag or beg for anything. Evidently, Daddy was impressed by our good behavior and offered to buy us an inexpensive game or toy. My eyes searched the counters several times before landing on a flat box of ten tiny colorful greeting cards and matching envelopes. They reminded me of the ones Mama sent to people, only these were much smaller – about two inches by two inches. Inside each one was an inspirational verse. These miniature cards were my choice.
Once home, I tenderly opened each card, trying to decide to whom I might give one. Our next-door neighbor, Mrs. Philips, was a retired school teacher and a kind lady without children of her own. She always had a kind word to say to everyone, so I selected Thinking of You with red roses. Then I chose To Our Friendship with white daisies and yellow buttercups for Mr. Phillips. He always shared vegetables from his garden with my family. Carefully, I signed my name.
As expected, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips seemed delighted with my gift. They compared the cards’ flowers and spoke of my thoughtfulness and their gratitude several times. I couldn’t erase my smile and enjoyed the glass of lemonade and homemade sugar cookies Mrs. Phillips offered.
I would regret not gifting Mrs. Ray, another kind-hearted neighbor, who gave us apples off her trees, with a Thinking of You card that had blue and yellow flowers. I signed my name and rushed next door. She opened the tiny envelope and read the inside verse. “What a sweet card, Sandi. Thank you very much. I’ll place this in my Bible, so I’ll never lose it.”
Elated, I skipped home and decided I should give my parents a card. They were always giving and doing for my sister and me. I thought, Daddy goes to work every day to earn money for groceries and paying the bills. Mama washes and irons our clothes, cooks our meals, cleans the house, and helps us with our homework. Initially, I’d planned on giving them one card to share, but rather reluctantly, I chose Thank You cards with different flowers on each one. Inside, I wrote “I love you” and signed my name.
Daddy read his card and smiled. “Thank you,” he said before turning his cheek for me to kiss. While Mama read her card, her eyes became misty with tears. She grabbed me and gave me a bear-hug. “What a precious gift. I love to receive cards, and this one is very, very special. I’ll tuck it in my wallet, so I’ll always have it with me. I love you!”
Suddenly, I realized I only had five cards left and regretted giving my cards away, somehow dismissing the joy they’d created for five people. After grumbling to my sister, she relieved me by saying, “You don’t have to give me a card” – a gift I didn’t even realize.
It was impossible to sleep that night from tossing and turning and fluffing my pillow. I felt torn. How could I be so greedy? Why was I so upset? I was being selfish.
I could hear a voice in my head saying, “You shouldn’t have given any cards away. They don’t care about them like you do.”
Another voice said, “Remember their joyful faces. Remember how happy you felt giving them something. Your gifts were blessings to them and to you.” Back and forth, back and forth I heard the voices all night. Finally, I drifted to sleep. When I woke the next morning, I remembered their smiles and their happy faces. Making someone happy was all that mattered. I knew Jesus was smiling, too. He was proud of me.
Almost sixty years later, I still think of my selfishness and greed over the little cards. Jesus taught me a lesson during that long and sleepless night. When you give to others or share with others, do so with all your heart and out of love, not regret. There have been so many times when I failed to put more in the offering plate at church. I’ve passed homeless people on the streets and looked the other way. I’ve given gifts because I thought I needed to and not because I wanted to. But not one time, has God turned His head away or failed to bless me in magnificent ways even though I don’t deserve them. God has heard every prayer or cry I’ve uttered (even though I’ve doubted at times) and answered it according to His will, which is always perfect and timely (but may not have been what I wanted). God knows what is best for me, and truly my blessings are many.
I have learned God does not intend for us to keep everything we have for ourselves. He expects us to help those less fortunate. He expects us not to be greedy and to give to others. He expects us to love our fellow man / woman and provide assistance to them in any way possible. He wants us to proclaim the Good News to everyone we know or encounter. We were not given life to hoard our blessings and just serve ourselves. We were given life to glorify God -- to share and serve others.
In Acts 20:35 (NIV), we read, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive."
In thirty-three years, Jesus worked miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead, taught us how to pray and live, explained the Scriptures, and gave the ultimate sacrifice (his blessed life without sin). He was falsely accused, ridiculed, scorned, spat at, beaten, whipped, and horrendously nailed to a cross to die a horrifying death so that I might believe in Him. And then he defeated death by rising again so that I, too, might have ever-lasting life.
God is good all the time; God is always faithful; God is always loving. God is always merciful. God is always caring. I wish I could give Him a smidgeon of the love, grace, and mercy He has given and still gives to me each day.
Throughout my adult life, I’ve enjoyed sending greeting cards to family, friends, and shut-ins. My husband threatens to buy stock in one of the card companies. I’m one of those people who enjoy giving presents to others more so than receiving a present myself. I love to make people feel special and happy. You know why? Because they are!
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV).