Did you by chance take part in the “family business?”
In my case, the family business was combination of a private detective agency and a security company that was based out of our home. During elementary school I regularly answered phones, worked security shifts with my parents and traveled all over the country as my dad was called to follow someone to take pictures of them cheating on their spouse. Kind of makes for an interesting way to grow up, doesn’t it?
All throughout this experience a number of characters somehow found their way into working for my dad. From the 8-foot tall whiner named “Ed” to the often lazy “Jerry,” every employee had a distinctiveness that separated them from among the rest. It’s no wonder we didn’t really promote our company Christmas party to the masses - we’d need some security of our own!
One of these unique individuals was named “Oscar.” One of Oscar’s unique characteristics, if this can be considered. is the fact that he didn’t have much. He came from a humble area near Chicago where he and his family lived. As he worked for our company for a short while, I noticed my parents were quite generous in helping him with money, food, and other household “essentials” that he and his family were lacking in. And on every occasion, Oscar simply said (in his usual deep, raspy voice), “Thank you.”
Being a part of the family business, I didn’t want a chance to miss out on the family generosity. So without any prodding, I gathered up many of my favorite toys and gave them to Oscar to give to his kids. And as always, Oscar gave me his famous “Thank you.” And that was it - end of story.
Looking back on it all, I think this was a good lesson for me in something Jesus said:
But when you give to the poor and do acts of kindness, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing [give in complete secrecy], so that your charitable acts will be done in secret; and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:3-4)Generosity involves giving up something you normally hold as a part of your life for something greater - a blessing to someone else, or a clearer connection to the greatest Giver of all. Like the lesson I learned during my younger days, sometimes you don’t get much more out of generosity than the affirmation that you did what was right and that should be enough.
Because we do not measure holiness by what we do but by who we are becoming.
Jesus warned us to be sure that when we make an offering, be it to God or to others, that we should not have a hidden agenda. Obedience in itself should be our reward, not because of external recognition but because of internal submission to Christ. And like Oscar, sometimes all God says is, “Thank You.”
Perhaps that should be enough - a thank you from God. You think?