The Gift of a Beautiful Thing By Ron Frey
A $30,000 smile and the gift of other beautiful things.
Sarah* loved to laugh, but she was self-conscious whenever she smiled. A daughter of a pastor, growing up her family didn’t have the money for braces and by the time she launched her career as a young adult, her crooked teeth had become a source of insecurity. But God wanted to do something more in her life, and what she needed was a very special gift.
One day she had coffee with Elizabeth*, a mere acquaintance. As they got to know each other, Sarah talked about her childhood in a home with little resources and how she and her siblings all worked jobs during high school to make ends meet. The next day, Elizabeth unexpectedly called and said,
“We want to pay for your braces and dental work. Would you let us give you a new smile?”
It involved facial reconstruction, braces, and more work than either of them imagined. But Elizabeth was there at every doctor’s appointment with encouragement and her checkbook. She insisted that Sarah get the very best treatment and whatever was needed would be provided. Two years and $30,000 later, Sarah had a beautiful new smile – the result of radical generosity.
Throughout the entire journey, the doctors and medical assistants who watched Sarah’s transformation and knew of Elizabeth’s generosity asked: How can someone be so generous and caring to give so much to another person? As Sarah left her final doctor’s appointment, her doctor said he felt what happened was other worldly.
And it was! It was radical generosity, coming straight from the heart of a generous God, and activated by a person willing to respond with an open hand. It was a “Good Samaritan” giving generously for the healing of another person. It was Elizabeth, shining her light – the light of God’s love – on Sarah in such a profound way so that everyone looking on could catch a glimpse of how God’s abundant provision actually works.
The result goes far beyond Sarah feeling new confidence about her appearance and being able to stand up in front of people to communicate effectively with a beautiful smile. This kind of radical generosity only makes sense if you believe in God’s vision for the world. Jesus spoke of the abundance of God’s kingdom and His desire to bless others through you. “
Freely you have received, freely give.” Matt. 10:8
But if you don’t trust Jesus’s vision of that world, you end up in a mindset of scarcity and lack, blocking the channel through which God may want to bless you for the sake of others.
A Beautiful Thing
Such was the predicament of the disciples when a woman came to Jesus in the home of Simon the Leper and poured a jar of very expensive perfume on his head. The disciples were indignant, asking “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor. But Jesus rebuked them, saying,
‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’” ~ Matthew 26:6–13 (underline is my emphasis)
What Elizabeth did for Sarah was also a beautiful thing, resulting in a beautiful smile and a person more equipped for public ministry. And to Elizabeth’s credit, this story will also live on in the lives of everyone who observed it, giving each one a reminder that God is good, His abundance is real, and the gospel of Jesus Christ really is good news.
A Gift Giving Challenge
I’m sure that we would all love to be the recipient of such a generous act by another person. But wouldn’t it be even better if, like Elizabeth, we could freely give and experience the joy of being the conduit through which God does something powerful in the life of another person?
This is the challenge of living a generous life, free from the shackles of materialism, individualism, and greed. As a Christian leader, pray for the spirit of generosity to unlock something within you that will start the flow of God’s provision to others through your generosity. Your gift will be a testimony to others, demonstrating for them the abundant life that Jesus came to give.
And when you do, it will be a beautiful thing.
Do you have a story of radical generosity either as a giver or a recipient? I would love to hear about it. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Name has been changed for confidentiality.
Ron Frey is president of Frey Resource Group, helping nonprofit organizations achieve success in leadership, governance and fundraising.
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