His car had actually been given to him by my wife and me when he was in college and, as I was driving his car, the thought occurred to me how generous I was to have given him this car that is still running so well. I was thinking pretty highly of myself and figuratively patting myself on the back for being such a benevolent father.
Then I remembered.
Several years back my wife’s uncle called me. Age had crept up on him and his health was failing and he and his wife, our aunt, had gotten to the point where they had no need for a car. I suppose they could have sold it and pocketed the cash, but they had talked it over and decided to offer the car to me and my wife. That’s right, they were giving the car to us. In time, we gave that very car to our son. The very car I was now driving praising myself for my generosity.
Shortly after I went through the “how generous am I” self-speech I remembered where that car came from. I had simply given away something that had been given to me. I was struck with a sense of guilt and then a sense of clarity. What I had learned is true with every act of generosity.
Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that everything we have we have earned. Somehow, we have come to believe that any ability we have to make money is of our own devices. And somehow, we pridefully congratulate ourselves when we give even a little of it away. And many times, we fail to be generous as we selfishly clutch onto everything we have earned never realizing that “every good and perfect gift comes from God.” That’s right, everything we give has been given to us by the benevolent Father.
That epiphany driving my son’s car was a stark reminder that I am not an owner, I am just a steward. I’m not as generous as I should be, but that divine insight has dared me to be better. And the journey to being more generous perhaps begins with the realization that everything I give away was really never mine in the first place.