Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scattering Seeds

Jesus made it clear how we are to go about being generous to others. He told us

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." Matthew 6:2

I think that many acts of apparent generosity and selflessness are actually well tainted with expectations and hooks. People give with the expectation that they will get back. The old quid pro quo. We give of our time and our money with the hope of impressing others, whether it be to attract a mate, to make others think us a certain sort, to get in good with the boss, or to move up on God's list. Too often we may not even be fully aware that we are actually giving with ulterior motives because our prideful attitude creates a light that actually eclipses our ability to see what we are up to. We strut about like a peacock in a parade clanging cymbals over all acts great and small simply to draw attention to our benevolence and our humilty. This was exactly the point Jesus was trying to make. We settle for the low-end immediate reward of attention from those around us, while sacrificing the high-end eternal reward.

Many years ago I had a conversation with a friend whose message has stuck with me over the years. Their feeling was that generosity is not necessarily best served or displayed through grand gestures. In many ways such acts are doomed to come from or end up in the wrong place. Generosity that ultimately means something, that gains a sort of positive traction over the long haul, is about planting small seeds of joy wherever we roam. For many years I dismissed this thought because the acts themselves seemed so small and were so easily unrecognized in the moment. However, I have since had a chance of heart. While I may not have the power or the ability to change someone's life, I have sufficient strength to let them know that I appreciate them, to bring them a smile when they are blue or under stress, to edify them and lift them up. This consistent and intentional sprinkling of seeds, over time, can bloom into a pleasant garden while keeping my own pride and selfish spirit fully in check.