I wanted to cry. My four year old son, out of the goodness of his heart, handed a shoe box to the young man who came over to work on his car. The contents of the box, a super-hero cape and mask that Paul M had received as a Christmas gift. The young man put the gift in his car and drove away. I should have been proud. I should have praised him for his willingness to give something (I thought) he valued highly. But instead, I went to bed worried that he would regret it and honestly mildly hurt that he would give away a gift that I thought he would love. I stressed over the best way to ask for it back and came close to doing so.
But I didn’t.
Once my brain cleared up from the fog of worrying about how Paul M would react when really understood what he had done, I knew to ask for the costume back would be wrong. In Luke 6, Jesus commands that we not ask for someone to return something we have given to them (a very rough paraphrase).
I was also able to see that my little man fully understood his actions. He talked about it the next day with such a matter-of-fact attitude: “I didn’t really like it anymore, so I gave it away.” He was fine. In fact, he was more than fine, he was so happy that he was able to give.
So, to ask for the suit back would not only be a sin against God, but would destroy my son’s desire to give willingly and generously.
As I mentioned, Jesus addresses giving in Luke chapter 6. But this isn’t the only conversation on giving He has with His disciples. In chapter 21 of Luke, we read about the widow with the two copper coins. You can read the story word for word in Luke 21:1-4, but the summary is that while standing in the Temple, Jesus was observing people giving their offerings. Many came in giving large amounts making a big show, then a poor widow walks in, places her two coins, all she had, in as an offering and walks away.
This woman gave generously. She had every right to keep some for herself, but she gave it all. And Jesus commended her for it. She received the promise found in Luke 6:35: She became a child of the Most High and surely received her reward in Heaven.
But giving means nothing if we are stingy and selfish in our hearts.
Each of you must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)
This is Biblical generosity: willing, cheerful, without expectation.
Encouraging Generosity in my Kids
I realized that my reaction to Paul M’s generosity was rooted deeply in my own materialism. It came from my pride in wanting to make sure my kids have it all. His actions caused me to consider how I can encourage generosity in my children.
Let Go. I need to let go of my materialism, my pride in wanting to make sure my kids have all the things, my selfishness in wanting them to keep whatever I give them. I need to let go and let them give to their hearts’ desire.
Provide the means. One of the reasons Paul was in a giving mood was because he loved putting things in a box and wrapping it. So we wrapped a box in wrapping paper so he could reuse it again and again (which he has). It was something special, new and different. And he enjoyed every minute of it.
Lead by example. This incident has reminded me that I too need to give. I need to be willing to give, not just financially, but give my time and possessions as well. My kids should see me giving in these ways on a regular basis and be encouraged to do the same.
Give Much because We Were Given Much
We are commanded to give. Not only because it’s kind, but because we, as Christians have been given much. Jesus gave His life for us, so we might become children of God. The Father gave the Holy Spirit to us so we would have a Helper in this world. Ultimately, we give to reflect the generosity of God.