In the sermon, the preacher said that a gift must be not only proper in its time and place and recipient, but the heart of the giver must be pure. If there is a desire for recognition, or for a return of any kind, or even just a feeling of superiority, the gift will be tainted, and in the long run will not do the intended good.
Afterwards one of the listeners said to an experienced senior, ‘I can’t see that. I can understand that something wrong in the heart of a giver might spoil the merit of the gift for him, but it won’t make any difference to the receiver. If a man’s hungry, it doesn’t matter to him whether he gets some food from a saint or from the greatest villain alive – he just wants the food.’
The senior made no reply, but began to walk faster on their way home, under the hot sun. The junior felt he would like to stop for a drink at one of the little tea-houses by the side of the road, but the other hurried past. Finally when they were both sweating, the senior paused at a little restaurant and said, ‘Wouldn’t you like an iced drink?’
They sat down at one of the outside tables, and the proprietor brought the two iced drinks on a tray. The junior could see the beads of water condensed on the outside of the glasses, and his parched throat yearned towards the drink.
‘Just a minute,’ said the senior, and he went to a little puddle near them, and dabbled his fingers into it. Then he came back, thrust the slimy fingers deep into one of the glasses and passed it across, saying smilingly, ‘Lovely and cool!’
© Trevor Leggett – Gifts