Schooled by a Child in the Art of Giving (Outside of a Target)

I stopped by Target today. I’m going to the Grand Canyon this weekend and I had a couple more things I needed to pick up. As I walked up to the doors I saw a table set up with a lady sitting at it, a donation box in front of her for an organization that helps homeless families. She was wearing a turkey hat, which was what really caught my attention. Yet I walked by and went about my business.

After checking out I exited the store and saw her there, knowing she was going to ask for money. I did my best to hustle by. I refused to make eye contact and hurriedly made my way to my car, saved from having to respond to her plea for money since her sights were on someone else. Yet as I was crossing the street a man’s son ran by, waved at her, and then exclaimed, “I would give you change!” I looked over and his dad was ushering him away, but something about his exuberant exclamation made me pause.

My thoughts as I had exited Target and hurried past this woman were as follows:

I already give enough.

I have other organizations that get my money.

I will fill a box for Thanksgiving for a family.

Oh how hard my heart is and how it melted at a little boy’s words! No wonder Jesus loved children so much. Their hearts are soft and their hands are open. They do not try to justify their inaction. They wear their hearts on their sleeves.

As I loaded my stuff into the car I took out some cash and walked back over to the lady in the turkey hat and dropped the money into her donation box. Her face lit up.

It was only a couple of dollars and I am not writing this to glorify me. I am writing this because the sweet, innocent words of a child who would have given every last cent he had to help someone in need showed me something about my own heart. If a little child who has nothing would have given it anyway, how much more should I who has more than plenty, be willing to give to help those in need?

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1-4 ESV)

I stepped out of Target unwilling to give even a little of my abundance, already justifying my inaction because of all the other things I do. Really, I should be giving first to those in need and then dealing with the rest. Children are often willing to give all they have to help, but I was not even willing at first to put a couple of dollars in a donation tin.

I pray God helps me to be a person with a soft heart and the willingness of a child to help those in need.