The Lesson…

When I was a young boy, I used to go over to my grandparent’s home on Winchester Avenue in Beverly and help my grandfather with the yard work. Sometimes, it was just cutting the grass, while other times it was raking leaves, pulling weeds, painting or doing other odd chores around the house. Whatever it was, I always enjoyed my time with Grandpa. It was during these times with him that I learned about the history of the family; for example – the fact that my great grandmother was a Christian Scientist who came to Chicago from Boston. She died from tuberculosis when Grandpa was young, along with Grandpa’s younger sister – and it was as a result of her refusal to seek medical attention that he left the religion and adopted the Methodist faith. That’s how Mom and the rest of us were raised – at Trinity Methodist Church on the corner of 99th and Winchester.

Or how about the fact that Grandpa went out on his own at the age of thirteen when his Dad remarried and couldn’t afford all the kids in the blended family. Grandpa ultimately put himself through Northwestern University, including the law school and spent his career in the practice of the law. The day he and Grandma were married it was raining so hard he had to stop by the drug store and buy another bow tie (his had gotten wet) for 10 cents – go figure…

But no matter how hard I worked, whether it was an hour or all day, Grandpa usually reached in his pocket at the end of our time together and gave me $1. That’s right – $1. And while he was putting it in my hand, he told me that I should always remember that you do things for family. You should never expect to get paid… You only get one family to a lifetime and you take care of them at all costs – period. He said this from the vantage point of someone who had lost a mother and sister when he was very young and had never recovered from these losses. To say nothing of the fact that he had supported himself from the age of thirteen. Believe me, the sun rose and set on Grandma and my mother. There isn’t anything Grandpa wouldn’t have done for them, or for any of the rest of the family.

As the oldest grandson, I was raised with the expectation that I would someday lead the family. Therefore, my training was a little different from my two younger brothers. As I reflect on those years, it seems to me that Grandpa had a pretty good system for teaching us sound values when it came to the family. And so I have adopted the same sort of method with our grandsons. Which brings us to this past week-end.

Janet and I were starting to bring down the Christmas decorations from our storage area and the boys were here. To be sure, they really made the job much easier. They helped me set up one of the trees, carried totes of lights for the outside decorations and really worked hard for quite a period of time. When they finally were ready to return to their own home, I reached in my pocket to give Carter and Cooper $5 each (inflation, of course). Cooper, who just turned 10, immediately refused his, letting me know in no uncertain terms that his help was “a favor” because “you do things for family.” And Carter thought about donating his money as a Christmas donation to a family that wouldn’t have Christmas without outside assistance. I was so proud of them I could hardly stand it… they got it…

The Bible is full of examples of people doing favors and acts of kindness for one another. In fact, our verse for the evening comes from the book of Colossians. We are told, in Col. 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” In other words, among other things, we are to have an outward focus of doing things for others. I am thrilled that our grandsons have learned this important lesson at such early ages. After all, especially with the commercialization of the Christmas season and the strong need for money all around us, two young boys turning down cash is something I hope they remember down the road. My encouragement this evening is that God loves a cheerful giver – whether it is time, talent or treasure. My prayer is that you will pass down the lessons you have learned from your elders to the newer generations coming up. After all, there are precious few good role models around and we owe our children and grandchildren all the great teaching we can muster. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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