You're walking alone down a dark, deserted street. Suddenly a dark form appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and points a gun at you.
"Hands up!" he says, in a gravelly voice. His face is hidden behind a ski mask.
You lift your hands in the air. Your eyes focus on the barrel of the pistol.
"Don't shoot," you say. "I'll give you all my money, just don't shoot!"
"Money?" the robber says. "Who said anything about money?"
You lift your eyes to the man's face. "You don't want my money?"
"No!" the man says. "I want your shoestrings!"
You're sure you must have heard wrong. "I'm sorry. What did you say?" you ask.
"Your shoestrings!" the man barks, waving the gun around in the air to indicate his impatience. "I want your shoestrings. Now, take 'em outta your shoes and hand 'em over . . . that's right. . . slow and easy like."
You untie your shoelaces and hand them to the robber, who snatches them from your hand and runs down the street, laughing and leaping in the air. "I'm rich, I'm rich!" he shouts. "Do you hear me? I'm rich!"
Yeah, right, you say. That's gonna happen. OK, so it is a little absurd. A command like "Hand over your shoestrings" sounds silly. Why? Because it reveals that the robber places an inordinate value on shoestrings.
His words reveal his values. Most robbers value money more than shoestrings; that's why they say, "Give me your wallet," or "Hand over the loot!" A person's words especially his or her commands often reveal what that person values.
The same thing is true of God. God commands us to be generous. "Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land" (Deuteronomy 15:11, NIV). God's commands show that he values generosity. That's why Jesus praised the poor widow who gave two tiny coins as an offering in the temple: because she was being really generous. Generosity is something God thinks is really, really valuable. And if he likes generosity so much, shouldn't we like it (and practice it), too?
REFLECT: Do you value generosity? Do your words show that you value generosity? Why or why not? Do your actions show that you value generosity? Why or why not?
ACT: Be alert for any opportunity today to show others that you value generosity.
PRAY: "God, this is the day I'm going to be generous in the way I act toward"....