On the 29th of November in the USA the people celebrate thanksgiving day, a day when they give thanks for all the ways they have been blessed, blessed with family, blessed with friends, blessed with health etc. If I reflect on my own life in the 1st world, I can almost be overwhelmed by all I have been given. God has been very generous to me. None of my gifts has been earned – God has been lavish in His goodness.
In that struggle between being generous and being self centered, I need never fear being generous. Ann Frank once wrote “Nobody has ever become poor by giving”. As I reflect on that wonderful Christmas day I realise that the joy I received on that day far outweighed any giving on my part and for that I will treasure that day forever in my heart.
This great generosity on the part of God asks me to look at my own generosity – how generous have I been with others in my life? Am I a person who freely gives of my treasures? Do I hold what I have been given with open hands or do I clutch it to myself? Isn’t it so easy to allow a quiet guilt to smother our generosity?
One of the great experiences for me was Father Christmas Day at Missionvale on the 8th of December over eight thousand children queued for Father Christmas to receive a present, a drink and some ice cream. Even though the presents were small in first world mentality, the extraordinary joy etched in the faces of those children who I met will never leave me.
A small gesture can mean so much, particularly if you have very little. I was left thinking a lot about that wonderful day and what does it mean to give freely. Maybe to give feely is to give with no strings attached. Just how many times do I hear myself saying: I am not sending him a card this year, he didn’t send me any last year. Or I am not going to give her a present, she never even bothered to send a “thank you” note for the last one. Or I am not going to volunteer to work in my own community – what have they ever done for me? There is always a tension in my own life between being self loving and being self centered I find myself walking that line every day.