My dad gives everything he has away, all of the time, and he’s been like that forever. He only BBQs, smokes, or fries food, so he’s either outside cooking or inside with windows and doors open, and that means people can smell the burgers, steaks, fried chicken, or anything else and they know my dad shares. So there’s always people at his house! Always! And there’s always enough food to feed everyone. Even if it means the good stuff runs out and so he’s just passing out canned peaches and green beans.
Every Christmas growing up, we’d pack and distribute food boxes at Thanksgiving and Christmas and then every Saturday, we’d get donations from around town of balloons and candy and doughnuts and hostess cupcakes and then we’d drive these big busses around and pick up hundreds of kids for church, and give the stuff away to them. Their parents would come too and of course my dad always gave cupcakes to them too! Because who doesn’t love a cupcake! And they’d always laugh like they were found out! Like… “old man knows I secretly want a cupcake just like my kid has… but I’m so grown up and dignified I shouldn’t have one”… and then my old man would give them a whole box. And they were so happy!
Then there’s the time it was smelt season — we lived on a river — and all the Russian families, like 2,000 people, would come dip for smelt. It’s an oily little fish that people use for lots of things. Well they’d be camping and it’s cold and wet and smelt season is about two weeks long. So my dad had them all coming into our home to use the washer and dryer. I walked in from school and there’s a bunch of guys in their long johns drinking coffee and waiting for the dryer to finish. You just… never know with my dad! He’s always got something brewing and it always involves giving.
One time he paid for a neighbor kids open heart surgery. And my dad doesn’t have money. But he happened to have money right that minute and so… he paid for the surgery. It meant he couldn’t buy a new-old truck. But hearts are more important than trucks.
But the thing about his generosity is this: it’s not because he’s just a great man. I mean… he is… but… he’s also a human and that means he’s inherently selfish as well. His generosity stems from something more than just the good feeling we get from giving. Because when you live for 70 years giving and giving and giving, sometimes that giving hurts. Sometimes there’s nothing to give. But my old man gives anyway. And I know why he can do it. (DRUMROLL……)
Because Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice for him, and me. (And you, btw). And that unending, unfailing, totally world changing love, lives inside of my dad. Because my dad said “JESUS! You’re awesome! Make me like you!” And so … He did! And Jesus is both inherently giving, and also inherently wealthy. So when a poor old man like my dad says “I want to be like you” Jesus steps in and gives him the power to give and in times when there’s nothing to give, Jesus provides that, too.
We don’t give so that we will be a better person, so that we will feel better and sleep nicer at night. We don’t give so we can become like Jesus. It’s the other way around. We are becoming like Jesus, and so we give. It’s not an ingredient for a happy life. It’s the byproduct of a happy life — a life that is only found in Christ Jesus! If you want to be a crazy giver but just can’t seem to get over the hump… start with Jesus! The rest will follow.