Virtue of the Week: Generosity

THE GLASSES

Mother’s father worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he was building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to some orphanage in China. On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone. When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what happened; the glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut. His brand new glasses were heading for China! The Great Depression was at it’s height and Grandpa had six children. He had spent $20 for those glasses that very morning. He was upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. “It’s not fair,” he told God as he drove home in frustration. “I’ve been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this.” Several months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States. He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China, so he came to speak one Sunday at my grandfather’s small church in Chicago. The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage. “But most of all,” he said, “I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses. Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top. The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued: “Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom-made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that.” The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas. But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.Ralph Waldo Emerson

WHERE DOES IT END?

There is a story about a wealthy farmer who was once offered all the land he could walk on in a day, provided he came back by sundown to the point where he started. To get a new start, early the next morning the farmer started covering ground quickly because he wanted to get as much land as he could. Even though he was tired, he kept going all afternoon because he didn’t want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to gain more wealth. Late in the afternoon he realized the condition he had to fulfill to get the land was to get back to the starting point by sundown. His greed had gotten him far enough. He started his return journey, keeping an eye on how close he was to sundown. The closer it got to sundown, the faster he ran. He was exhausted, out of breath and pushed himself beyond the point of endurance. He collapsed upon reaching the starting point and died. He did make it before sundown. He was buried and all the land he needed was a small plot.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative generosity or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.Martin Luther King, Jr.

THE PRECIOUS STONE

There was once a wise woman traveling in the mountains who found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and she opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked if she might give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But only a few days later he came back to return the stone to the woman who had given it to him. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I’m giving it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. I want you to give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”


RETURNING A $4000 ENGAGEMENT RING

Billy Ray Harris, a man who frequently panhandled in Kansas City, Mo., was surprised to find a diamond engagement ring in his cup one day. A woman named Sarah Darling had taken off her ring and put it in her coin purse, and later dumped the change from her purse into his cup, USA Today reports. Harris took the ring to a jeweler, who offered him $4,000. But he didn’t sell, choosing instead to wait in case Darling came back. She did, and he gave her the ring. “My grandfather was a reverend,” Harris said, according to USA Today. “He raised me from the time I was 6 months old and thank the good Lord, it’s a blessing, but I do still have some character.” Darling was so moved that she went public with Harris’ good deed, establishing a fund in his name. It raised $185,000. The best part? Harris’ younger sister Robin, who hadn’t talked to her brother in more than a decade, saw the report and was able to reunite Harris with his four siblings.


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