Way back when, there was a hymn we sang at church (Awake, awake to love and work) that had the line with which I have titled this post. It seems today I have seen something of what this means and elicits.
This afternoon we had our quarterly songs of praise service at the local sheltered complex followed by tea. As usual we took no collection and tea was free. As usual we gave people left over cake to take home. But slowly things are changing in a good way. Someone offered to make a dozen book marks for our charity coffee morning (on Wednesday) and someone else offered ten hand made cards. Someone asked if they could come to our normal service next week. We took tea to three people who hadn't been well enough to come down to the service and someone complained that she wanted to give to give some money!
When we began doing stuff for free, and no collection, people looked at me as if I was mad, thought I'd lost the plot and that we'd be taken advantage of. Now we simply give and give and give again - and it rubs off, a tray of cakes arrives, a pound coin is slipped to the organiser to buy the milk or bread, the spare sandwiches are sent to a homeless project rather than being greedily grabbed by someone for tomorrow's packed lunch. Freely you have received, freely give. I almost skipped home in the sunshine, I was so delighted with the change these years have wrought.