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My inner Yorkshireman

Generosity has always been a difficult word for me. I’m a Yorkshireman, my dad was a bank manager, my wife is an accountant. What hope was there ever going to be that I would have a free and easy attitude towards giving?

Where I came from you took care of yourself and you expected others to do the same. And then I became a Christian and things started to change. I began to understand that Jesus had given his life for me. Why on earth would he have done that? It made no sense at all…… unless he loved me. And if he loved me, if he really loved me, then it was like someone putting a million pounds in my bank account every day of the week. And if I had a million pounds in my bank account I could start to be generous because I suddenly had so much more to give. That is how I started to overcome the inner Yorkshireman.

Now Jesus said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’. We do not give in order to be blessed, we give because Jesus gave his life for us. It is the least we can do. However, wouldn’t it be amazing if we gave generously with no expectation of getting anything back in return and then we found that we got more back from God than we had given in the first place? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you can’t out give God?

Recently, I found myself putting this outrageous theory to the test. I was on the train from London to Birmingham and, tragically, someone threw themselves on the line ahead of us. The train stopped at Northampton and we were told to wait for buses that would take us on to Coventry. I thought I’d check out the taxis, so I wandered outside the station where there was a large crowd milling around and a couple of taxis across the road. I walked towards the one taxi and realised a young woman was in the midst of a blazing row with the taxi driver. ‘Why won’t you take me in your cab?’ she screamed ‘You haven’t got enough money’ he replied. ‘Well, I’ll go to the cash point in the station to get the money’ she shouted. ‘If you leave the taxi I’m taking other passengers’ he bellowed. They went backwards and forwards like this, eyes bulging and veins throbbing. The young woman seemed totally oblivious to the fact I was standing next to her. Eventually, I got to interrupt and said to her ‘What’s the problem?’ She broke off from the verbal onslaught to say, ‘I need thirteen quid for the fare and I’ve only got ten’. ‘So, this is all about three quid, is it?’ I said and she replied ‘Yes’.

Now at this point, the inner Yorkshireman is shouting at me in my head saying, ‘You need to get to Coventry, you’re important, you take the taxi and let her sort herself out’, but strangely I had an out of body experience and heard myself saying ‘I’ll give you the three quid’. ‘What?” she said. ‘I’ll give you the three quid’. Just as I said this a guy barged past her to get into the taxi. Clearly, his inner Yorkshireman had got the better of him. She started arguing with him whilst I got my wallet out and looked for three quid. Problem was I only had a £20 and a £10 note in my wallet. My inner Yorkshireman cheered at the prospect of being let off the hook and yet was soon horrified to hear me saying to the woman ‘Just take the tenner’. She said ‘What?’ I said, ‘Take the tenner’. With that she took the £10 note and the other guy got out of the taxi. She jumped in the taxi and sped off but not before popping her head out of the window and shouting out at the top of her voice, ‘You’re a wonderful man!’

I was left stood there in a bit of a daze and then the guy who’d got out of the taxi turned to me and said ‘Why don’t you come with us? I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘There’s four of us going to Coventry and we’ve got room for one more’. So, I bundled into the second taxi with them and we set off to Coventry. The guy was sat opposite me and he looked up and said, ‘You’ve got some good karma coming to you for what you did back there’. I thought for a moment and said, ‘I think I have already had the good karma’. ‘How come?’ he said. ‘Well, a complete stranger has just told me, and half of Northampton, that I’m a wonderful man. That doesn’t happen to me every day of the week I can assure you. And, what’s more, because of what happened you invited me into a cab to Coventry that was going to cost me £75 but is now going to cost me £75 divided by 5 which will save me £60.’ He smiled and said ‘Well, there you go, good karma’. The inner Yorkshireman was suddenly most pleased and as I walked through Coventry station later, those words came back to me ‘You can’t out give God’.

You can’t out give he who gave his only son such that you and I could have eternal life. You can’t out give he who loves you. You can’t out give a God who keeps putting the equivalent of a million pounds into your bank account in the name of love. So, if you also have an inner Yorkshireman I encourage you to challenge that voice that says ‘It’s mine. It’s mine. All mine.’ No, it’s not yours. It’s God’s. He gave you the gifts that allowed all that has come to you to come to you. It’s God’s money. He gave it to you so you could bless others and so that he could then bless you.

John Blakey