Are you a giver or a taker?

By Henrylito D. Tacio

The world is full of two kinds of people: the givers and the takers. “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give,” Duane Hulse once said. Or to quote the words of William Penn: “I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there can be any kindness I can show, or any good things I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, and not defer it or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

“The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth,” said Sir Wilfred T. Grinfell. “It is obvious that man is himself a traveler; that the purpose of this world is not ‘to have and to hold’ but ‘to give and serve.’

Now, do you remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? (A parable is a special kind of story. It teaches a lesson by saying what something is like. When we know what the things in a parable stand for, we can understand what the parable is teaching.)

If you haven’t heard of it, here’s the whole story as told by Jesus Christ (Luke 10:30-35): A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, too him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

More often than not, we are any of the people mentioned in the parable. However, most of us prefer to be the victim – the man who was robbed and left almost dead. We are contented to be the recipient of all the good things from other people. We want people to give us gifts, cash, mercy, help, anything.

When can we graduate from being a taker and step to the next level of being a giver? You will never know the joy of giving if you keep on receiving what others are willing to give you.

But it is better to give than to receive, so goes a saying. That was what the Good Samaritan believes. He did not only save the victim, he also took care of all his needs. “It is not what we receive,” Evangeline Booth said, “but what we give to others.”

Alice R. Pratt reminds, “An ungiving person does not live; he breathes, he eats, he sleeps, he gratifies his needs, but only exists until he has discovered the cleverly interwoven secret of life, giving of oneself. True giving is done without the slightest trace of expecting to receive. It is only in giving that we ever receive? Perhaps in giving of oneself there is enough taken away to have room to receive.”

Now, this reminds me of a true story which happened while eating breakfast. “I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree,” she wrote. “The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. For our last project, she asked us to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway, so, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally.

“Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to eat breakfast in one of the country’s food chains. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch – an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.

“As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling.’ His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, ‘Good morning’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching.

“The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted.

“The blue-eyed gentleman said, ‘Just coffee, Miss.’ I think that was all they could afford. If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and feel the cool atmosphere, they had to buy something. Or else, they won’t be able to do so.

“Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray.

“I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’ I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.’

“I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope.’ We held hands for a moment and, at that time, we knew that only because of the grace that we had been given were we able to give.

“We are not church goers, but we are believers. That day showed me the pure light of God’s sweet love. I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with the story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, ‘Can I share this?’ I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class.

“She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God share this need to heal people and to be healed. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn: unconditional acceptance. We have to love people and use things – not love things and use people.”

Henry Blackaby, in a devotional piece, pointed out: “We Christians are experts at receiving. We’ve soaked in God’s love, forgiveness, and healing. We’ve eagerly accepted eternal life. We’ve been adopted into God’s family, and we gladly claim the myriad of promises the Bible says are just for us. We don’t pretend to have earned any of these things; they’re all free gifts from God, and we know it. Nor are we dense enough to suppose we could ever repay God. In fact, God doesn’t ask us to pay him back. He does ask one thing, however. He wants us to become experts at giving as well as receiving.” — ***

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