Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors. Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (MSG)
As a child my parents signed us up to provide food for Thanksgiving to a family who couldn’t afford it. I still remember driving with my mother to a section of town that we had always driven through. I remember the house with the run down porch and handing the bags of groceries, the frozen turkey, the cans of cranberry sauce and green beans over to a woman I did not know, whom I would never see again.
I remember my Great Aunt telling me of my grandfather. There were some terrible years after her divorce. Each time my grandparents drove the 200 miles to visit, she said she would clean her apartment the next week and find a fifty dollar bill on top of the refrigerator. Knowing that her pride would never allow her to accept a freely given handout, my grandfather would slip the gift on top of the refrigerator where it wouldn’t be seen until cleaning day.
I remember a friend who, just a few years ago, told me in a passing comment what a miser she considered me to be. It was said in off-hand jest, but I perceived the sincerity of the jab. She really does consider me to be miserly.
And there is the rub. On one hand is the legacy, passed on to me by previous generations, of grace and generosity which I so desire be and to carry on; the desire to be the person described in today’s chapter giving freely and spontaneously: open, purse, open hands. On the other hand is the reality of a sinful and stingy heart that others see and perceive in me and my actions. I feel constantly the tension between Jesus’ challenge to give everything away and my heart’s penchant for hoarding everything for myself.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Some days I am gratefully reminded that this is a journey and I have not arrived. I am not the person God desires, nor the person I, myself, desire. The work of molding and shaping is not complete. I am a work in progress. The key is to keep moving forward letting the regular motion of the journey keep my heart pliable like clay that is constantly worked in the hands of the potter. If I stop for too long and choose not to press on, then things sit and slowly begin to dry out and harden.
Here we go.