Twice. In two days.
Twice in two days, I did good things. Because they were in front of me to do. And, like a student who has memorized his lessons well, I knew what must be done.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
“Twenty dollars. It needs more, but I’ll fix just the one thing to make it play.”
He had no more money to invest and I could help by giving the instrument a lick and a promise, as the red-headed lady who raised me used to say. Only, as I did the repair, it became evident that the minimum that could actually be done was a sixty dollar job. It would never play otherwise.
I had promised to make it play. I would do that. And, I would cover the difference.
I was proud of myself. I had memorized the lesson and followed its instructions to the letter.
He came to pick up the instrument. I mentioned that I had to do more. I might have even told him I did three times as much. I waited for his gratitude to bubble over. Surely he would at least shake my hand and thank me.
“I don’t know why I’m spending this money anyway. She’ll probably not play it at all.”
With that, he was gone.
Robbed! I’ve been robbed!
No, not of money. I’ve been robbed of the gratitude that should have been mine. Where is my praise for being such a good person? That’s it? A word of complaint and he walks out?
I want what is rightfully mine!
Truly I say to you—they have their reward in full.
The next morning, a vehicle pulled up to the store. The folks took care of their business and left. No. Scratch that. They tried to leave. The vehicle wouldn’t start. It was out of gas.
Hey! Another chance! I bolted to the storage barn and pulled out my gas can. It was nearly empty, but there should be enough to get them a block down the road for gas. I told them to use it all. No—I don’t need any money. I’m just glad I can help.
Unfortunately, after they poured all that was in the can in their tank, the car still wouldn’t start, so they sent someone up the road with the now-empty can to fill it up and bring it back. I needed to take care of other customers, so I told them they could just leave the can in the storage barn when they were through.
What do you suppose they did? Well—not what I expected. They left the can in the storage barn and drove out of the parking lot! Seriously!
I’ve been robbed again! They just drove away without another word!
And worse, they left the gas can completely empty in my barn. Everyone knows you leave gas to pay back for what you used. Everyone!
I want what’s rightfully mine!
…and your Father, who sees what you do in secret will be the One who rewards you.
Clearly, someone in this narrative doesn’t understand the expectations of the love your neighbor as yourself directive.
May I take just a moment and assure you that I registered my complaint? Vociferously. Both with family members and with God. They listened sympathetically.
You see—the someone in this narrative who doesn’t understand is me.
Sometimes, when we do the right thing, the good thing, all we hear in response is crickets. Sure, sometimes the person we help gushes with gratitude. It’s nice when it happens, but if that’s what we’re going for, we’ve missed the point of the original instructions.
I believe the Latin term is quid pro quo.
Something for something.
I give you something. You give me something in return. The end.
It’s the way our economic system operates. It’s not a bad system, as human systems go.
It’s just not God’s system.
He says give without expectation of repayment. Give so that no one knows you’re doing it.
And then He says, I’ll be the one who settles accounts—when the time is right.
Like Job in the Old Testament, I sit here with my mouth open, grasping for words, but all that comes out is, I had heard about You, but now I see clearly for myself and I am ashamed.
I said at the start it was twice. Twice, I did good things. It may have been more than that.
I am determined it will be more than that.
I just won’t be telling you about it.
To give and then not feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving.
(Max Beerbohm ~ English essayist ~ 1872-1956)
Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:4 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.