One of my favorite memories about Christmas growing up was watching my father's generosity everywhere he went. As a boy, my father didn't have much. He grew up during the Great Depression. His childhood wasn't very joyful, but he was determined to share as much as he could later in life. My father had empathy for the needy and a drive to help others. People seemed to sense it, too. I can't tell you how many times a stranger came out of nowhere and walked right up to my Dad as if guided to him by a heavenly hand.
I was about 15 years old traveling with my father overseas during Christmas break when I witnessed one of those encounters. We were in a small airport terminal with a thatched roof on an island in the Philippines. I was walking back from getting a drink and a snack when I found my father talking to a young man with long hair and a backpack. They were deep in conversation, which wasn't unusual because Dad liked hearing people's stories. The next thing I knew, my father was reaching for his wallet and handed the young man a wad of cash—a couple of hundred dollars. When I asked him about it later, he said, "Well, we got to talking, and he told me he was trying to get back to the states but had miscalculated how much money he needed and was stuck in the airport. So I gave him enough to get him home to his parents for the holidays. I just kept thinking, what if that were my son or daughter, wouldn't I want someone to help them?"
That's the way my father lived. He was a generous man with a giving heart. He believed the best in people and gave them the benefit of the doubt. He shared whatever he had everywhere he went and discovered the true joy of Christmas.
This year, I encourage you to discover the true joy of Christmas by sharing what you have with others. Maybe you aren't in a position to buy someone a plane ticket, but you have something you can give. Even a word of encouragement can mean the world to someone who needs to hear it. Just keep your heart open and look for ways to be a blessing. Let God use you in a special way this Christmas and every day of the year!
"One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." (Proverbs 11:24, NIV)