My kids don’t like to share sometimes. Who does, really? Sharing was instilled in us because it’s nice – it’s polite. In a sense, we were taught to share in an attempt to cover the natural greed and selfishness inside us. It’s still there – we just get good at hiding it. My kids don’t usually hide behind politeness. When asked to share, the answer will very often be no. They have moments of grace, of course. They also seize the moment to get what they want – they’re not beyond negotiating deals. Do they ever share from the heart? Do any of us?
If we step back and examine our own sharing, how do we measure up? Are we helping a friend because we want to or because we’re supposed to? Do we spend time with the elderly because we really want to, or out of a sense of obligation? Do we share our time, money, and resources with a joyful heart? Sometimes, sure. But more often than not, we’re used to giving and getting.
We’re used to having our hard work pay off. We’re used to working toward a goal and reaping the rewards. We’re used to working for a living and getting a paycheck. What we’re not used to is gifts of love with no expectations. When this occurs, and it strikes our heart, there are several responses. A common response is disbelief/denial – we won’t accept the gift. Another is anger – how dare you be nice – you’re making me uncomfortable! We might be grateful, but then work very hard to respond in kind. Rarely do we accept the gift with gladness, gratitude, and grace.
When my kids want something – cat, dog, fish, frog – they start laying it on like Naaman the Syrian. They’ll offer silver, gold, and letters of recommendation. Okay, it’s more like $3.12 in change and promises of clean rooms and perfect pet care – but you get the idea. They’re looking to purchase some grace. Just as we all struggle receiving a gift with no strings, we also have little experience asking for a gift with no strings. We’re also afraid of spoiling our kids, or creating a welfare nation.
The reality of a gift – a gift from grace – that’s received – is powerful. Here’s a tiny example. I recently bought my 7-year-old daughter Katy a pack of gummy bears. She loves/craves candy far more than my other kids. So I surprised her with a little package of the colorful cubs. What did she do? Did she keep them all to herself because she doesn’t like to share? I was delighted with her response.
Katy ran off and immediately surprised her siblings with the gooey treats. She was happy to share. Happy! Why? Why didn’t she guard and protect the gummy bears like most, if not all, of her other things (food or otherwise)? Why didn’t she rub it in their faces that she got a treat and they didn’t? What was different?
Katy took a small gift of grace and multiplied it.
She was so excited, so caught off guard, so blown away, she simply had to share her gift. Doesn’t this sound a bit like the Good News of Jesus. When we discover what Jesus has done we respond in one of the ways mentioned above. Or, we begin to feel the awe of the sacrifice, the love, the grace, the gift, and we respond. But our response is not out of a sense of duty, but out of a sense of gratitude and love. We can’t help but share the gummy bears.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson