From a young age, giving was always inculcated in our family. My dad would give my siblings and I a $1 coin each to put into the offering bag at Sunday school in Church. Every time we went to a hawker center or coffee shop and saw someone selling tissue paper, he would pass us the biggest note in his wallet and ask us to bless the person with it.

I never really understood why my father was so generous and thought that he was giving because he had a lot of money; that whatever little sum of money he gave away was nothing to him.

I remember one afternoon, I was having lunch with him along Thomson Road. While we were eating, we saw a frail old lady with a trolley full of fruits, sitting just a few feet away from us. She had set up a makeshift “shop” along the pathway, right outside a tuition centre, and was trying to sell her goods to those who walked by.

How unfilial her children must be! I was thinking. Was there no one to take care of her?

God has never held back from providing, so why are we not giving?

Just then, my father got up and walked over to her. After a brief exchange, I saw him purchase some fruits from her before coming back to where we were seated. I couldn’t believe it! What in the world was he doing? Hadn’t our household just bought fruits yesterday? These fruits didn’t even look fresh!

I immediately asked my dad why he had bought more fruits when we already had so much at home. This was his reply: “God has never held back from providing, so why are we not giving?”

I didn’t question him further, although I still thought the money could have been better spent on getting a new phone or other more useful things. I still felt that he was wasting his wealth by treating it so lightly.

And then out of nowhere, things took a turn for the worse. My father was retrenched from his job.

My mother was left as the only sole breadwinner of our 6-member family. On top of that, my grandfather’s frequent medical check-ups were very taxing too. We were in financial difficulty, so my parents decided to start drawing out money from their bank accounts only every two months.

In that period of time, I was sure my father would not give like before. But I was wrong. He continued giving! Even when the Church needed funds for the new building, he pledged to contribute a regular sum of money every month – and it was no small sum.

I couldn’t help but think to myself, what was my dad doing? Here we were in a financial crisis, and there he was giving away what was ours. He never cut short on giving to others.

When we give back, we are doing just a small portion of what God has done for us.

Over breakfast one day, I finally asked him, “Dad, how is it that even though you’ve been retrenched, you cut back on things like travelling at the end of the year, but never giving? Almost everyone I know would do otherwise.”

Again, his answer was simple: “Of course I could’ve not given money to the Church or to people in need, saying I’ve got financial problems. I could even pray that God would give us more. But will I be happy with that?

“It is through giving that you see how fortunate you are, and through it you will find true joy. When we give back, we are doing just a small portion of what God has done for us. He has never shortchanged me when I’ve given.

“I know that as long as I faithfully give to Him and the people he loves, He will look at my cheerful heart and bless me greatly. That is why I give no matter what I am going through.”

I never ever forgot those words he said. We give because He first gave to us – holding back not even His only Son. And if God has never shortchanged us, who are we to shortchange in giving freely?

This is a submission from a participant of our Christmas Gift Exchange. From now till the end of December 2017, we are giving away a limited edition Tumbler in exchange for every story on the Christmas themes of love, joy, peace, hope and giving. Click here to find out more.