I found out last week through social media that an old high school classmate was seriously down on his luck, unable to work, without transportation, and out of money; a friend had started one of those online fundraisers to help him.
While I am a man of fairly modest means, my first reaction – even though I have neither seen nor talked to this guy in decades – was to throw a big chunk of change into the pot, start a fundraiser of my own, find out where this guy is living, and take him a carload of groceries. Do something.
Then, I started noticing the reaction of other former classmates, who, instead of donating a little cash to the cause, sent best wishes, prayers, hopes to get well soon, and “Call me when you feel better” messages. Two people pledged $25 each, but that was it. I was surprised, and wondered why.
Why weren’t more people pitching in? A lot of my old high school mates have a lot of money. Was there more to the story than I knew?
I told my wife about everything, and said I wasn’t sure what to do.
“Go with your gut,” she said, all full of logic and good sense, as usual.
A friend and roommate told me the same thing a long time ago. When it comes to making important decisions, listen to your gut, that little voice inside that helps decide right and wrong. “Your gut will never lie,” he said.
In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 9:7, it says: "You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
My gut was telling me to contribute, and so I did. Not a lot – I have plenty of my own financial obligations – but a little something. Several days later, the number of donations had gone up to six, for a total of $300, a far cry from the original goal of $2,500. There has to be some reason people aren’t willing to part with a few bucks to help this guy out. I don’t have the answer, but I feel good about doing my small part.
There was a time when this would never have happened, me giving money to anybody. I was raised in a family where our father was so tight with money, he could squeeze a nickel until the buffalo hollered for help; and I guess that’s where I learned to be overly protective with my own funds.
Until recent years, I was a notoriously bad tipper at restaurants, for example. Service had to be impeccable for me to even consider leaving a decent tip. Bad service? Forget about it. Used to drive my wife crazy. She comes from a large family that got by on a limited income, too; but she adheres to the belief that what goes around, comes around, as it applies to finances.
Her philosophy on giving and receiving is pretty well summed up in 2 Corinthians 9:6: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
I asked her about this recently, and she said: “Giving is not about the other person; it’s about you. When you give a gift, it’s not about what you’re going to get in return. It’s about allowing God to work through you.”
Apparently, I am still pretty selfish, although I am working on it. When I give, I don’t think about God and whether it’s the right thing to do, yadda, yadda, yadda. I kind of like the good feeling it gives me inside.
Try it sometime. Go to a restaurant and leave a $20 tip on a $20 ticket. Next time you stay at a hotel, find one of the cleaning ladies on your way out and hand her a twenty. I did that last summer when I drove Route 66; it was a lot of fun.
The cleaning lady was taken aback and I think a little shocked, but as I was putting my suitcase in the trunk of the car, I heard her call out, “Have a safe trip!”
Hebrews 13:16 says: “But to do good, and to communicate, forget not: for with sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Maybe that good feeling I get inside is God’s way of letting me know I made the right move.
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