When my best friend asked me to lunch last weekend, my initial thought was I did not want to spend any more money. The past few weeks had been full of birthdays and outings with friends that had completely blown my budget.
After much thought, I knew some quality time with my friend was worth the few dollars I would have to spend on a meal. As I glanced through the pricey menu, looking for deals and bargains, I tried to push thoughts of money away and focus on enjoying the atmosphere, food, and company.
When it came time to split the bill, she slipped right under my nose and paid for all of it herself. Despite my protests she would not let me pay her back, and I realised ashamedly I had not needed to spend all that time thinking about myself – my friend was already thinking about me, and she had it covered.
Money, time, material objects; these are all things we treasure because they come at a price. We work for them, we make sacrifices for them, and we feel like we are entitled to them so it sometimes becomes difficult to part with them. The irony is, parting with these things brings us more joy than having them ever could. Only once we make a sacrifice can we realise this.
Catherine realised it. She worked hard every day at a bread company saving up for a car. Then one morning when regular customers – a married couple – asked how her savings were going, Catherine responded that she had given every last cent of the $5000 she had saved so far to a widow in need.
That couple realised the joy of giving too when they decided to buy Catherine a brand new 4WD car. Her joyful and teary response to the generous gift is now inspiring many millions of people in the I Like Car video on the social campaign website called ILikeGiving.com.
Other inspiring stories on this website include a family buying bikes for refugees who had theirs stolen, a woman paying for someone else's groceries after they left their wallet at home and a couple sharing their home with a homeless man. The reality about our money and material possessions is they are only temporary. The smiles on people's faces and the peace and joy we feel when we give is priceless and the effects are long-lasting.
Money, time and material possessions will often bring us more happiness when we see them in someone else's hands. Yet there is one thing we hold with even greater value, one thing when given away that becomes the ultimate act of generosity: our lives.
That is why people like George Tyson, who died in 2012 when he pushed his disabled son Gary out of the path of an oncoming car and took the full impact, fill us with such admiration.
People like Ryan Arnold, who died when giving his brother Chad a liver for a transplant.
And the touching story of 13-year-old Jordan Rice who saved his brother from a flood in Queensland but did not make it back to safety himself.
We hear these stories and are in awe of the courage, the love required to make such a sacrifice. But like Gary, Chad, and Jordan's brother Blake, it might surprise you to know we have all been on the receiving end of such an act of generosity.
To release us from fear, the guilt and shame from past mistakes and wrongdoing and to make us right before God, Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice.
His innocent death still brings humanity hope today and the free gift of eternal life with God in heaven if we choose to accept and believe in Him.
It does not take much to make someone's day. A simple act of generosity, from paying for someone's meal to helping someone with a flat tire, can make a huge difference.
It leaves me thinking about ways I can help make someone else's day but most of all, it reminds me why I live to bring Jesus honour in the way I live – after all He made the ultimate sacrifice.