give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back
give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow
a friend brought these bits of scripture up in discussion. i think this to be an instruction of great importance, but one i don't often think about. we are to give to everyone that asks, not just those that are easy to give to, not just to those we think will give back to us in some way. we are never to deny someone in need. not even when we are in a hurry, short of time or money, or just not in the mood.
now, this doesn't always mean we give someone exactly what they ask for. if a child asks for matches to play with, we clearly don't do this because it could cause them harm. but the child isn't really asking for matches. the deeper gift he needs is something to play with, or someone. so we should not simply deny the child matches, but find a way to give to his need in some way that would benefit him, a ball or crayons to color with, for example.
as we discussed this a bit as a group, i realized that if we were truly looking, there are so many opportunities daily to give to those that are asking. when people ask directly, verbally, the need to give becomes more obvious and hence easier to respond to. what is the greater, but arguably the more beautiful, challenge of giving, is hearing the asking unspoken. there is a silent language of asking that is only comprehensible to those looking at others through the Father's eyes, intentionally searching for need, developing a heart eager to give of yourself in love.
giving in true love is achieved by investing in each others lives, knowing how to read when another is asking without speaking, needing without admitting the need. and it is personal. part of the joy of giving is discovering what type of gift will individually communicate love. what may be interpreted as a act of love, a true gift, by one person may not be received that way by another, or not as much as another form of gift. a gift is not limited to the store bought (clearly), in fact that is really the smallest category of gifts. gifts are more commonly things like an encouraging letter, washing dishes, time given to listen to the non-notable details of another's day, volunteering to help a friend move, holding a door open for a stranger, or simple wordless smile to a passerby.
the only thing universal of all sincere gifts, store bought or not, is that they must be given with the intent to communicate love and must cost us something.
we make a living by what we get. we make a life by what we give.