Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and a rare half-dollar. That is what you would find on the nightstand beside his bed. He would empty his pockets at the end of the day and leave the contents there — knowing they would eventually come to visit. “They” were his grandchildren. Over the years they had learned to visit his nightstand when they arrived. He could have saved the spare change in a coin bank or stored it in a saving account; but he didn’t. He delighted in leaving it there for little hands to discover and eyes to dance with the treasures they took with them.

In the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, God told Moses to instruct the people not to “reap to the edges of your fields or gather all the gleanings of your harvest.” Essentially, Moses instructed the people to “leave a little behind.” This instruction was counterintuitive, but reminded the people that God was behind the harvest. His people were to provide for those who had little (the strangers in their land).

One of the stories which highlights the practice is called Ruth, where a daughter-in-law from a foreign country gleaned in the edges of the fields of her future husband, Boaz, who discovered her there. She became the grandmother of King David.

The principle is that God loves a generous heart. Not only does God love us enough to give His son for our sins, but he models for us the joy of sacrificing for the needs of others. The New Testament clearly states, “Greater love has no one than this, that a man should give his life for his friends.”

We may not be called on to die for our family or friends, but the generous heart feels the tug for giving of ourselves for them and those in need around us. 2020 has demanded sacrifices from all of us. May 2021 provide new opportunities to “leave a little behind.”

In his book, “Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again,” David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, writes this truth: “Generosity quickly becomes contagious.” The discovery we can make in the new year is that the only love we keep is the love we give away!

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Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or

Barnes & Noble.

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