Resist the urge to be generous…

Snack Tray

Sunday afternoons at our house is our family time to unwind and relax from the week that was and store up for the week that’s coming.  As part of that time we tend to snack our way through the day, rather than sit down for some huge meal at the end of the day.

The “snack tray” on a Sunday holds mystery, excitement and wonder for me.  By that I mean I know that my wife will come up with all kinds of fun treats for us, and I secretly feel like a kid myself when she walks in the living room with it…waiting to see what is on it.

It brings me back to my childhood and the fun memories of popcorn on a Sunday night, where my mom would “hide” some kind of treat at the bottom of the bowl.  We saw the popcorn, but we excavated our way through it like champs to get to the chocolate candy we knew was waiting at the bottom.

As we were kicking back yesterday something happened that I didn’t fully “mentally unpack” until today.

On the tray was popcorn, pretzels (both regular and chocolate-covered), cheese, crackers…and more that I can’t even remember.  No sooner did that tray hit the ottoman, and all three of our kids descended upon it with laser beam precision.

Sawyer proceeded to grab some cheese.

Specifically, as he called it…”the holy cheese” (swiss cheese for those of you who’s Monday brain is still on weekend time. I can relate!).  There were other types of cheese, but this was his favorite.  It’s what he did next that taught me what I’m about to share with you today

Sawyer picked up the cheddar cheese (hereafter referred to as “yellow cheese”) and began to offer it to all of us…one by one…piece by piece.  It was really cute. At first glance, I saw a nice little boy who was being very helpful. I saw a kid wanting to serve others, and make sure they had food in their hand first.

Then it hit me.

He was willing to give away the yellow cheese, so that he could protect his angle on eating the “holy cheese” himself.  I don’t know if he really even realized what he was doing…but today it reminded me of how we approach many situations in our everyday life.

At first glance, he looked rather generous.  And upon further reflection, he was.

So, what’s the point, right?

Here is the takeaway…he was generous…BUT…

His generosity got in the way of his opportunity.

He chose to be generous, and stopped short of serving with extravagance. See, it wasn’t hard to offer the yellow cheese, because he never really wanted it anyway.  By giving something away, he would come off looking sweet and kind.  Except all of us could see, and hear (as he proclaimed his love for the “holy” cheese) him holding out on us.

Offering the yellow cheese was generous because he wasn’t hoarding it to himself.  Offering us the “holy” cheese however would have been loving extravagantly through the personal sacrifice of giving up that which he held closest to his heart…so that someone else could experience it for themselves.

And that is what hit me this morning.

Sometimes…I do a really bad job of getting out of my own way.  I offer something up that makes me look generous, when the real opportunity would be to give something up out of sacrificial extravagance. Out of a love that serves others, honors others and positions others before myself.

Is it easy?

Heck no.  Sometimes that “holy” cheese is something I would be willing to go 15 rounds for.  I mean, as long as I’m offering something up (yellow cheese) I’m being generous.  I’m being nice. Right?

Nice, maybe.  But it misses the point.  When we have “holy” cheese to offer and we don’t…our yellow cheese that we do ultimately is the equivalent to offering limburger cheese.

Our offering stinks, when it isn’t our best.  Our sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice…because it lacks extravagance.  The applause we want for our generosity is a distraction to the real opportunity.

Others first.  With all that we have.  So that they can know, experience and feel what it’s like to be showered with a love so extravagant…that the only possible response is to turn around and live that way too.

I knew that Sawyer didn’t want me touching the “holy” cheese.  I could see him guarding it even though he couldn’t see himself doing that.  We’ve all been there, in that kind of moment before.

Generosity without loving extravagantly is a missed opportunity to serve others and leave that as our legacy.

So wherever you go today, join me in asking…

Is my need to look “generous” getting in the way of what I should be doing (being sacrificially extravagant)?

Are my actions to protect what I want, at the expense of giving someone something they need?

Am I content with appearing generous when I should be living a life of sacrificial (to my desires) extravagance (to honor others)?

Funny how snack time on a Sunday can be a great lesson for a Monday.

I’m still digesting it (pun intended…because I felt like you needed a cheesy reference).  Ahhh…two puns for the price of one!

Enjoy the start of your week.

My challenge to us today is simply this.

Resist the urge to be generous.  

Instead…go beyond that, and live with sacrificial extravagance.

That’s a snack worth chewing on today.

That’s a snack we need to be sharing.

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