When I was a kid, I shared a bedroom with my sister, my brother had his own room, and my uncle Mark had a bedroom downstairs, just up from the basement. My parents had their own bathroom in their room, and the rest of us shared the only other bathroom upstairs. Our church had a Compassion House ministry. Compassion House was a temporary home for families who needed help getting back on their feet. One family with two little girls lived there for as long as Compassion House would allow, and were no further along in finding a job or being stable than before they came in. So, my parents invited that family to stay at our house, creating a temporary bedroom in the basement for them. I can’t really remember for how long they stayed, perhaps only a week or two in the summer when I was about nine. But, I clearly remember when the dad had made his first twenty dollars, my parents put it in an envelope in the bottom drawer of the big walnut desk in the living room. A few days after that twenty dollar bill was tucked away, the family was gone, and so was that envelope. We never saw or heard from them again. It was strange, having a family of four suddenly living with us, and just as abruptly, not. My parents didn’t make a big deal of it, they just opened up their home, even though it wasn’t terribly convenient. I remember that they didn’t advertise their benevolence. Only the people through our church who coordinated the family to live with us knew. My parents kept their very generous act private by not announcing it to others.
This weekend, my girls, my husband, and I went sledding in the mountains of NC. We brought with us an old, orange saucer sled that looked like it had been run across a cheese grater. My girls were so excited to try the hill, but that orange sled would not budge, even on the icy patches. There was no slide, only friction. Another family was there with two of their little boys, each one toting a new, shiny green saucer sled. The father noticed my husband and I trying to push our still-excited girls atop that orange sled down the hill to no avail. The oldest boy, after some prodding by his dad, willingly gave us his new sled. I nearly cried at his kindness and compassion. My girls proceeded to have the best time ever zipping down that hill together, my oldest in the back, my youngest in the front. That small gift from that little boy gave my girls (and me!) a glow that lasted all weekend. When I find an opportunity to do something for someone, a bubbling feeling of excitement brews in my belly. Out of pride, it would be so easy to take a picture and post, “See what I just did?” But there is no need to advertise. Keep that act of generosity a fun secret just between you and God. The right people will notice, and forever be changed.
3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.Matthew 6:3-4 (New Living Translation)