Today is a national holiday here called Boxing Day which is a primarily British holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day. In the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of large estates would practice Boxing Day. They would do this by boxing up leftover food, clothing and other household items. These items would be distributed amongst their tenants and workers the day after Christmas. The day is known as St. Stephen's Day to Catholics the world over. It is principally a day of giving to the poor. How much should you give? Should you give anything? I heard this as a true story and have no reason to doubt it’s veracity as I have myself seen this kind of thing repeated over and over.
After Katrina, a preacher noticed the family standing in front of him at a New Orleans convenience store did not have enough money to pay for their few items. He tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “You don’t need to turn around, but please accept this money.” The man took the money without ever seeing the preacher.
Years later, the same pastor was invited to speak at a church in New Orleans. After the service, a man walked up to the preacher and shared this story about how he had come to faith in Christ: “Several years ago, my wife and our child were destitute. We had lost everything to Katrina, had no jobs, no money and were living in our car. We also lost all hope, and agreed to a suicide pact, including our child. However, we decided to first give our son some food, so we drove to a convenience store to buy him some food and milk.”
“While we were standing in line at the store, we realized that we did not have enough money to pay for these items, but a man behind us asked us to please take the money from his hand and not look at him. This man told us that ‘Jesus loves you.’”
“We left the store, drove to our designated suicide site, and wept for hours. We couldn’t go through with it, so we drove away. As we drove, we noticed a church with a sign out front which said, ‘Jesus loves you.’ We went to that church the very next Sunday, and both my wife and I became Christians that very morning.”
He then told the pastor, “When you began speaking this morning, I knew immediately that you were the man who gave us that money.” How did he know? The pastor was from South Africa and had a very distinct accent. The man continued, “Your act of kindness was much more than a simple good deed. Three people are alive today because of it.”
You never know. Many times when I lived in the states, I’ve asked what the bill for the car behind me at MacDonalds was going to be, and if it wasn’t too much, I would pay it for them and tell the clerk to tell them it was a gift from God. I always drove away and never looked back. I have also paid the toll for the car behind me on turnpikes. It felt good which is why I did it. It really costs so little to learn to love and never to expect anything in return. Sometimes, the benefits are indeed huge.