Concept - YES!
Practice - NOT AS EASY!
I was both convicted yet encouraged recently as I read another article by Jay Link.
He shares two stories.
Recently on Sunday morning, at the end of our worship time, the worship minister announced that we were about to watch an extraordinary video about a couple in our church. As the video rolls, I am surprised - I know the husband, B.J. because I have played basketball with him at church for the past few years. I liked him from the very first time we played ball together. B.J. is a young man in his late 20s, has a successful money management practice and is an extremely talented athlete. Since I knew one of the main characters in this video, I proudly nudged my wife and said, "I know him!"
My excitement turned to embarrassment as he and his wife shared their story. B.J.'s wife had a high school friend who was very ill and in need of a kidney transplant. Both of them immediately said to themselves, "Maybe we could give her one of our kidneys." Well, it seemed reasonable to me that B.J.'s wife might want to give her good friend one of her kidneys, but as it turned out B.J.'s kidney was the perfect match. So without hesitation he donated one of his kidneys to his wife's high school friend. They shared that it just seemed like the right thing to do. B.J. had an extra kidney and this girl had none.
I was stunned. I wouldn't give one of my kidneys to one of my wife's friends. I would not even consider it. Of course I would give one to my wife or one of my children if they needed it, but to one of my wife's friends? Don't get me wrong, I am all about giving of my time, talent and treasure, but giving my torso - my body parts? That was a level of giving that entirely surpassed my current concept of generosity.
Just a few days later, I was ready to board a plane to return home from a business trip. I was first in line and was looking forward to getting comfortable in my first class seat and then "zoning out" on the flight home. (I often get upgraded for free.)
Just prior to our boarding, a very heavy, crippled man had been escorted down the jetway in his wheelchair to board the plane. So I waited patiently for the call for first class to board. However, just as they began to announce the first class boarding, another guy cuts right in front of me and hands the attendant his boarding pass. His rude manner and obviously arrogant attitude irritated me.
As we got to the bottom of the jetway, four airline staff were having difficulty getting the heavy, crippled man out of his wheelchair and into the airline wheelchair needed to get him on the plane. This delay was causing a back up in the jetway. No one was able to board because they were right in front of the plane door. So here I am standing and stewing over this rude guy who cut in front of me while I was waiting to get on the plane. I stood there a little impatiently watching the airline employees working futilely to get this crippled man into the airline wheelchair.
Then, the bomb fell. The guy who cut in front of me calls out to the flight crew, "Hey, let me help you." So he drops his bags and hurries over to them and helps get the man into the plane wheelchair. I was so ashamed. I was standing there just like the line-cutter was, but the thought never even crossed my mind to offer any help. Of all the people standing there watching this happen, this guy who I was convinced was so selfish and full of himself was the one who volunteered to help.
Unfortunately, the humiliation wasn't over. When they finally get the man in the wheelchair and through the plane door, Mr. Helpful then says to the airline staff. "Let me-go back and get his bag for you." He comes back off the plane, grabs the man's bag, which by the way, is right at my feet and takes it back into the plane to him. Yet, another missed opportunity for me to live generously.
By this point I am feeling very convicted about my lack of generosity. Interestingly enough, it turns out the line-cutter is sitting right across the aisle from me in first class. I told him I appreciated his willingness to help the crippled man. He smiled and said, "It wasn't anything." To him, it wasn't anything, but to me it proved that of the two of us, I was the one who was selfish and full of myself, not him.
But God still wasn't finished rocking my generosity world. As I am finally relaxing in my first class aisle seat, the passengers in economy start filing past me. I hear a woman immediately behind me ask this soldier who is standing right next to me, "Soldier, what seat are you in?" He says, "21B." "One of the dreaded middle seats in the back," I thought. She then says to him, "Would you like to sit here?" The soldier hesitated, but the woman insisted that he take her first class seat and she would go back and sit in his middle economy seat.
Humbled again! This is all happening right next to me. Know that I deeply appreciate what our military does for us as a country and for me as one of its citizens. I have even thanked soldiers for their service on many occasions. But the thought of offering this soldier my first class seat and taking a middle seat in economy class on a packed plane was another indicator of just how limited my generosity really is.