I've learned some important lessons recently about generosity. The first is that it comes back to you. The second is that, as a community of believers, it's how we are supposed to live.
I've had some interesting experiences lately. I recently lent my car to someone to drive to New Orleans. Since then, we've become friends, but at the time I didn't know him real well (Krista new him better than me). It was an important trip, and his car wouldn't have made it, so he would have had to figure out where to come up with the money to rent a car. So I let him borrow mine.
When he got back, he told me all the things that were wrong with it. It needs new brakes. The heater is broke. The back vibrates because one of the tires is messed up. The most interesting part of the story, though, is that he's a mechanic - a good one - and he offered to fix everything for the cost of the parts. So I gave him some cash, and he replaced the brakes (along with the drums and rotors), fixed my heater, and gave me an oil change, all for what the parts cost. (He couldn't find a tire the day he worked on it, but that was the most minor item that needed fixed.)
He saved me a lot more money than what it cost me to be without my car for a day. And isn't this how we're supposed to be living? I help you...you help me. It all comes around. Maybe that's what Jesus was getting at when he said,
Do to others what you would have them do to you...Krista and I have been trying to practice this more and more. It doesn't come easy in this hoarding, keep-everything-you've-got, put-as-much-of-it-to-retirement-as-you can culture. We haven't been doing it to get a return, but a return is what we've been getting.
A small but significant example happened last weekend. I went and saw my first NASCAR (Busch) race. For the uninitiated a Busch race is like the minor leagues (hey - kinda what the Bush leagues used to be in baseball). Anyway, it was quite an experience. The cars, the food, the amazing 20,000+ crowd. There was a couple sitting next to us who had just bought season tickets. My brother and I were talking about getting my Dad a little something as a souvenir, and this couple had what looked to like a pretty cool Nashville Superspeedway cap (that's where we were, obviously). When I asked them how much the hat was, they told me it was free to anyone buying season tickets. Then they offered me the hat. The race was fun, but the trip was worth it just for that experience. People never cease to amaze me. Just when my level of cynicism has gotten full someone pulls a fast one and reminds me most people really are good.