Giving, Not Taking

fountain image

Now that it’s “back to school” season, it’s a perfect time to re-visit some commitments to good works. After several lazy, hazy weeks of summer, students have probably gotten out of the habit of reading and disciplining themselves to do homework.

As a family, you may have also strayed from some of those commitments you resolved to follow earlier in the year.

That’s okay. God rested when He saw that His work was good.

We all deserve an occasional break to regroup, refuel, re-prioritize; but are we taking those breaks before we see that our work is good? Are our priorities where they need to be?

According to Forbes Media, only eight percent of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. Staying committed to personal goals, professional goals, and spiritual goals with only an eight percent success rate is a sad statistic.

What might happen if we committed ourselves to giving more than we take?

giving tree

The classic children’s story “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein illustrates the happiness that can be found by giving and not taking.

In this story a tree and a boy develop a loving relationship by spending time together. Their commitment to each other nurtures their friendship.

The tree gives unconditionally to the boy, but the boy eventually chooses to focus only on his own needs and wants.

“I want to buy things and have fun,” the boy tells the tree.

He believes money and material things will make him happy; so the tree agrees to give him her apples, her branches, and her trunk. The boy takes these gifts and then focuses on himself.

Even though the tree is the giver, the boy, like us, is the taker. The tree gives selflessly, but the boy takes selfishly.

When the boy grows old, he returns to the tree to find happiness; but he has no teeth with which to chew the apples and no strength with which to climb the tree’s branches.

Like the boy in this story, if we constantly focus on our own wants and needs, we often fail to realize how happy we could make God by taking less and giving to Him more.

Romans 12: 2 tells us not to be conformed to this world (not to allow technology or other temptations to rule our lives), but to make our lives acceptable to God (to commit to those personal, professional, and spiritual goals).

If we would make serious commitments to these matters, our schools would not need testing accountability, our divorce rates would plummet, and our church pews would overflow.

People in today’s society often claim they are entitled to rewards without putting forth effort. However, as former Major League Baseball player Rex Hudler advised, we should all try to “be a fountain, not a drain.” In other words, be a giver, not a taker.

As this new school year begins, I pray for each student to give 110% effort to learning. I also pray for each teacher to share genuine passion for the education profession. It’s hard work, but try to stay committed.

I pray for family members to love each other unconditionally and to think of others more than themselves.

I pray for the community of believers to re-commit themselves to church and Sunday school attendance.

Your commitment to spending time with God will bring happiness to Him and to you.

Like the boy who developed a loving relationship with the giving tree, we can find happiness when we commit ourselves to giving more than we take.

“Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments.” 1 Kings 8:61

“Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.” –Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Acts 2:42; Hebrews 13:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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