24 Some people give freely and gain more; others refuse to give and end up with less. 25 Give freely, and you will profit. Help others, and you will gain more for yourself. (Proverbs 11:24-25 ERV)
I watched a movie over vacation that was about a man wrongly imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. He spent about a quarter of a century behind bars serving time for a violent crime he had been wrongly accused of all those years earlier. Yet, in the midst of all the harshness of prison, living a life he neither bargained for, nor "lived up to", he did not grow bitter. He longed for the day he'd be able to be free again. That day came when they discovered the "real" criminal because of new evidence. His release was bittersweet, though, for his main desire was to reunite with his father and have his father know of his innocence. It was almost too late, for his father was in the final stages of Alzheimer's disease and didn't recognize his own son. Isn't it just the way things go at times - we want something so desperately, only to find what we believed would be so easy becomes such a hard thing for us to deal with in the end...
One day, the released prisoner finds himself in church, but without anything to give other than himself. He explains to the preacher that he cannot put anything into the offering plate because he has nothing to give. Yet, in the scenes that are displayed one after another, we see this man giving more than he knows. He gave a young boy a much needed friend, a worried divorcee raising two children someone to watch over her and her family, and a dying father the attention of a loving son. He had so much to give, but it didn't look like much compared to those who could write out the large checks. In the end, the courts help to make right what had been wronged in this man's life, allowing him to be given a large sum of money for what amounted to his lost wages all those years. In the end, he pays off the debt of the single mother, restores hope to a dwindling church worried about keeping its doors open, and blesses more lives with his generosity than we would ever know.
Generous people don't always display their generosity in their financial giving, though. He was generous long before he had come into money. He gave of his time maintaining the property of the single mother. He gave of himself to a boy without a good father image, feeling lonely and bullied by his peers. He gave what he was - not what he possessed. In the end, it may just be the greatest lesson some of us can learn - what we are is much more important to others than what it is we can "give". When we give of our true selves to another, blessing them in turn, we may be giving the greatest gift we can give. Just sayin!
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