One Sunday morning Paul Merritt introduced me to a young guest that he had brought to church. Jayden is four years old with a wonderful smile and a charming personality. He had never been in a church building before and was quite taken with all of the people and especially our Sunday school. During the worship service Jayden came to forward during our “Ministry with Children” time.
Our scripture theme for the morning was taken from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17, verses 11 through 19. It is the story of how Jesus healed ten lepers, but after they were healed only one leper returned and thanked Jesus for what he had done.
I handed out to each child a baggie that contained ten pennies. I told them it was a gift, just like the gifts that God gives us each day. God gives us such gifts as love, hope, joy and caring. As we receive these gifts we become thankful, so thankful that we want to actively give thanks. I then showed them an offering plate and said to them that every Sunday we show our thanks to God through our giving. If we felt that God had blessed us with ten pennies, then we could say thanks to God by giving one of those pennies to God, BUT it was their choice.
Every person exercises their choice in saying thanks. Some people would keep all ten pennies. Some would be thankful that they could keep nine pennies and more than gladly give one of the pennies to God. So as the children left to go to Sunday school they could put a penny into the offering plate or they could keep all ten pennies. It was their choice. Each child was happy to reach into their baggie and pull out one penny into the plate. After all, they still possessed nine free pennies they didn’t have before.
The last person to leave that morning was Jayden. As he approached the offering plate a big smile came over him. He emptied the entire baggie of ten pennies into the plate! He was so thankful to be in church that he couldn’t stop himself from giving all of his gifts to God. When I saw the joy on his face my heart almost leapt out of my body! He didn’t stop to count the cost. He didn’t ask how the money was going to be used. He was simply happy to give it all to God!
When I saw Paul the following Sunday morning we talked about Jayden’s amazing generosity. Paul then told me about a gentleman who came up to him after the worship service and handed him a dollar for Jayden. The man told Paul that one of the values that were taught to him as a child was that when we are giving with our lives God multiplies our generosity ten-fold. Jayden had given ten cents. He wanted Jayden to have a dollar – ten times the ten cents. For the man, Jayden had been a blessing to his life and he wanted to bless Jayden. Generosity brings even more generosity.
I don’t think people should give in order to get even more, but I do think that when people become giving there is even more giving to be experienced in their lives. The theme for our 2010 Stewardship Campaign is “Let God Lead.” And God did just that. God led through the grateful heart of a four-year-old boy. Jayden, you helped me to experience once again the purity of giving, asking for nothing in return. There is a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Thank you.