“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:6-8 NIV)
t was a rainy, damp December day. I was headed to the store to pick up another week’s worth of food. I had put off shopping for Christmas presents until later in the month but wasn’t looking forward to the crush of Christmas shoppers while I grabbed my groceries. I kept the CD player on while I drove to avoid the radio news. It only spoke of the world’s huge problems and how divided we all still were. And it usually just left me feeling helpless.
Still, I gave my son a dollar to put in the Salvation Army bell-ringer’s kettle at the door to the store. We went in and soon filled our cart with food. Then we walked towards the self-checkout machines. I hated using them. I much preferred to chat with the friendly cashiers, but the line at them was five deep and I just didn’t have the time. As I pulled my cart up, though, I heard the man at the machine next to mine grumbling under his breath, trying his hardest not to curse. He only had a few items but every time he put his moldy, wrinkled, well-worn, twenty dollar bill into the machine it spit it back out. I quickly grabbed a newer twenty out of my wallet and gave it to him. He thanked me with a warm smile and paid for his goods. I told him to keep his money but he insisted that I take his old, torn twenty. I nodded, put it in my coat pocket, and wished him a Merry Christmas.
After checking out I remembered something Mother Teresa had once said about how we all can change the world. “Help one person at a time,” she said. “And always start with the person nearest you.” I reached into my pocket, smiled, and went outside. Then I dropped that torn twenty into the bell-ringer’s kettle and walked to my car happily humming a Christmas carol. “God loves us all so much. And God wants us all to change the world with our love. It is easier than it looks too. Just start with the person nearest you.