Why is it tough to be the beneficiary of generosity?

Great idea: (pre) Mothers' Day Free Car wash

Great idea: (pre) Mothers’ Day Free Car wash

Moms always want a clean car.  Denny Pallay isn’t a mom, but he loves upkeep on cars and teaching people how to maintain their vehicles.  This picture is the result of the plans we made that I posted about during the kids’ Spring Break.

On Saturday, from noon to four pm, Denny led the way as a dozen or so people from the high school and junior high groups from our church washed, waxed and vacuumed cars for any mom. If that wasn’t enough, he recruited his wife and daughter, Sharon and Wendy, to put together sweets for the moms as they waited. And the charge for this? Absolutely nothing.

It’s amazing how easy it is for some people to accept free things and how difficult it is for others. I’m no longer sure if there’s a worse option.

IMG_20130511_133500_383I’ve been in many situations where the church or organization I was with was giving things away for free: food, clothes or gifts at Christmas time. Most people accept things graciously, but sometimes there are people who know how the system works and do their best squeeze every last drop of generosity from their benefactors without the slightest hint of gratitude.  Sometimes it makes me want to take it away and give it to somebody who’s more deserving, as if I’m the gratefulness police.

Yummy, Yummy!

Yummy, Yummy!

But sometimes there are people who aren’t used to receiving .  Some of the moms at our car wash wanted to give a donation even though the sign said “free”.  Each time that happened our team would call me over to explain why I had instructed them to refuse any such offers. It turned out to be a great opportunity to witness, “One of the values of our church is generosity. We’re teaching our kids to be willing to give things away for free, just like Jesus did all the time.”

vK16AZInLiq0j93RudnyFq3J5VWShW7z9rG3Lu8_lyIIt’s been difficult for me to receive things for free.  Maybe it’s because receiving charity can be seen as a sign of weakness. Or, possibly it’s because I don’t want to owe anybody.  If somebody gives me something, I feel an obligation to give something in return because I’m no free loader.  And yet, that’s the very essence of our thanksgiving to God – accepting what he’s done for free. As a Christian, I should be used to being okay with that concept, especially if I thank him for the greatest gift every day.

I’m pretty sure all of the moms understood what we were doing.  For most people, I believe it is much easier to give than to receive. That poses an interesting problem for evangelically minded people. Just think of your generosity in the name of Jesus a primer for telling them about the awesome gift of life that Jesus offers.

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6 thoughts on “Why is it tough to be the beneficiary of generosity?

  1. You’ve touched upon a subject I’ve been wanting to write about. I think it’s hard for some people to receive because they have had bad experiences with people who have been reluctant to give. I’m not talking about those who take advantage of others, just people who are in genuine need. Sadly, there are those, even in the church, who say they want to give but do it grudgingly.

  2. Interesting point, Margo. People may not like to receive because they don’t have experience doing it due to lack of opportunity.

    I’m reminded of Scrooge (Michael Cane) in the Muppets’ Christmas Carol. He was a little reluctant to receive the give Beaker gave him, the scarf right off his neck, because he had either not received a gift in a long time or had never received one.

    It sounds crazy, but you’re right: where generosity is scarce, so is the ability to accept it. Thanks so much for your comment, Margo!

  3. This is a lesson it took awhile for me to learn. But once I learned the lesson of generosity, it became easy to accept, once I realized that accepting someone else’s generosity enabled them to experience the joy of giving. If I were to be a difficult person, uneasily accepting generosity, I would only be making life harder for the giver.

  4. We learned that lesson while running a feeding program in Philadelphia. I had been preaching on the benefits of generosity for the giver to our “regular” church on Sunday morning and realized that we hadn’t been giving the opportunity to the less fortunate people who worshiped with us before we fed them in the afternoon. So, we took an offering. We didn’t get much, and we didn’t expect to. But, the people were thankful for the opportunity – even those who couldn’t give. Great point. Thanks Saunsea.

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