A few weeks ago I went to the supermarket with my youngest son Caleb. After we had been through the checkout he said, “put money in puppy daddy!” Maybe you have seen the plastic dogs they have outside of supermarkets to raise money for guide dog training. My boys love to put money in them. I pulled out the few coins I had in my pocket and gave them to Caleb. If the look on his face was anything to go by, putting money in the puppy was about the most exciting moment of his day.
There are some things that my boys won’t give away to anyone. Like their favourite toys. But they love to give away money. They love to put money in the puppy at the supermarket and at church they love to put money in the offering. After the supermarket with Caleb I began to think about why giving is so easy for them. As far as they can tell their mummy and daddy have an endless supply of money. Why would they worry about giving it away?
After we put money in the puppy we walked past a man who was asking for money to go towards children’s cancer research. I avoided him. I didn’t want to give away any of my money. I thought about how this guy is probably getting paid and that he probably doesn’t even care about kids with cancer. I thought that maybe not much of the money that gets donated ever makes it to funding research. I thought about how I don’t even know what kind of research they are doing and if it is likely to ever make a difference to kids with cancer. I thought about how we don’t have a lot of money to spare right now. I thought about a lot of things that made me feel better about not giving away any of my money.
Then I thought about Caleb. He never asked what the puppy was going to do with the money that he put in it. He is too young to know anything about blindness and guide dogs. My boys never ask what the church is going to do with the money they put in the offering either. For them it is never about what happens to the money after they have given it away. For my boys the act of giving is the joy.
In the Psalms God says that he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. The point is that God, our daddy, is not poor. If my boys find it so easy to give because they believe that their daddy has an endless supply, why do I find it so hard when my daddy created and owns everything that ever existed? A while ago a man in our church said that giving is in our DNA because God is the greatest giver of all and we are his children.
I thought of a lot of things to make me feel better about not giving away any money. None of them felt as good as pulling a note out of my wallet and walking back to give it to the guy. I began to understand that I, in a tiny way, was living out of what it means to be created in the image of a giving God. I began to understand that I don’t need to be afraid about giving because my daddy has plenty.
Giving is meant to be simple, I have made it so complicated. Jesus needed no assurances of return on his investment when he gave himself up for us. He didn’t demand a guarantee that we would accept his sacrifice for us. He just gave. It’s so easy to find lots of reasons to not give. If you are anything like me you have practised this a lot. On my trip to the supermarket with Caleb he taught me something. When I refuse to give, the person who misses out the most is me. I rob myself of the unbridled joy of being a giver, just like my daddy.