Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Over the years, holiday gatherings, parades, and other traditions have become a part of the Christmas season as well. This time of year also focuses on the act of giving to others.
I have often wondered why God put such an emphasis on giving. Jesus freely gave his own life. The Bible provides instructions about the tithe.
For most of my life, I thought that the only purpose of the tithe was to ensure the financial survival of the church. While tithing achieves this vital function, a man named Dave Ramsey suggested another important reason why we should tithe and give. Dave is a Christian financial advisor and media personality. During one of his radio programs, he addressed the issue of tithing. He said that God desires us to tithe because He wants us to have the heart of a giver.
That two-minute illustration changed my view on the act of giving.
It did not take two seconds to recognize the best real-life example of what Dave was talking about.
A man I refer to as “the Giver” was born in a small town in Tennessee. He became a champion tennis player in high school and SEC football player in college. When German Panzer Divisions rolled across the Polish border in 1939, he decided to give himself to the American military during World War II. As a pilot, he led flight squadrons that aided the Allied victory, suffered as a P.O.W., and finally made it home to his loving wife.
While the Giver, still in his 20’s, had proven himself a giver to his team, family, and country, his legacy of giving had just begun.
After the War, the Giver joined a thriving company in Georgia. He became a father, a millionaire, and an indispensable man in the company. Yet, his character did not change. He gave money, time, and second chances to those around him. He did so without the expectation of any fee, recognition, or reward of any kind.
While he would never speak of it, he quietly became known as one of the most generous men in his community.
Perhaps his strongest attribute was his ability to continue giving to others when a person who freely received his gifts sought to undermine or harm him. When I learned of this years ago, I found him to be naďve and easy prey for “takers” seeking to take advantage of him. I also wondered why he would continue giving to others after being harmed.
As I grew older, I learned that he was anything but naďve and was never harmed. He would always extend a hand to those in need. But, he would never allow a taker to have a second chance. I am reminded of this when Judge Al Johnson uses one of his courtroom phrases, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Those who sought to undermine or harm him somehow never prevailed.
A few years ago, the Giver began to weaken with old age. I remember the day he passed away quietly at his home. I thought to myself how sad it was that he would never be able to give again.
Once again, I was wrong. While his selflessness in life assisted many people, the greatest and longest lasting impact was the example he set for the people in the community. Human instinct leads us upon the path of self-preservation. There is nothing wrong with this. Without this trait, we would not be able to survive.
The Giver showed with his actions that we can care for ourselves and other people as well. He improved the lives of many people. But, he influenced the lives of many more.
God communicated through the life and legacy of the Giver His desire for us to give, not out of obligation, but from the heart.
This Christmas, my prayer is for God to increase our heartfelt capacity to give.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. Jaso. W.Swindle, Sr.