My boy looked at the last french fry in the carton, then at me, then back at the final fry. Short pause. Then, with a grin wide enough to split his face he looked up and said, “Daddy, you can have my last one.”
Best Father’s Day present I’ve ever received.
Sacrifice within the face of scarcity releases a power, a wonder working power. People often speak of the importance of giving our ‘first fruits’–I wonder if we would do well to emphasize the equally biblical principle of being generous with our ‘last fruits.’ Think of the power of the last breaths of Jesus, painfully exhaling, “It is finished!”
And yet, this is a big reason why politics are so vexing for so many Christ-followers (right wing, left wing, everything in between). How does one practice the spiritual discipline of generosity and sacrifice without ‘giving up any ground’?
There’s a good chance that’s the wrong question entirely.
It’s one thing to surrender a fry when we’ve got several handfuls remaining–quite another when our stomach is still growling with only an empty carton staring back at us. It’s one thing to be a good dad when your kid is giving you french fries; it’s quite another when he’s getting on your last nerve. It’s one thing to help a friend when you’ve got a free afternoon; but quite another when your schedule is full for weeks. It’s one thing to consider oneself openminded; it’s quite another to surrender the instinctively overpowering urge to convince others, and simply listen as a coworker, friend, or even parent, sibling, or spouse.
The fewer the fries in the carton, the greater the pain of the sacrifice. In some ways, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the power of the gift.
As we wrestle over asking better questions, may God develop the church to be a people characterized by generosity at precisely the moment when we most desperately feel the pressure of self-preservation.
And may we learn to ask, “How can I raise my gaze upward from the ground I’m unwilling to surrender, that I may direct my generosity towards those who are most hell bent on taking it?”