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St Johns Southgate

08 Feb 2018

Giving without thought of reward

Upon winning the men’s title at the Australian Open last month, everyone’s favourite tennis player, Roger Federer gave a heartfelt and emotional speech in which he said his thankyous.

It would have been completely understandable for him to stick to thanking the tournament director, his opponent, the sponsors and the team of support people around him, but he made sure to specifically talk up the many wonderful volunteers of Melbourne.

Volunteers certainly deserve our thanks, but that’s not why they do it. The whole point of volunteering is that you give of yourself without reward. But of course, the rewards are great. While it is incredibly touching to be on the receiving end of someone’s selfless giving, there’s always something of a gift received by the giver too.

I couldn’t help but think about selfless giving as I read the letter, “A sincere thank you” in issue 70 of Southbank Local News. In it, Lynne, a Southbank resident, described her experience of falling over near the Yarra and injuring herself. She found herself on the ground bleeding, but instantly realised she was being helped by several people.

One of the people who came to her aid was a young woman, Jasmine, who in helping without consideration for her own time, or clothes for that matter, happened to get Lynne’s blood all over herself. Lynne reported that she’s on the mend, but that she will never forget the kindness of Jasmine and the other strangers who assisted her that day.

Lynne was most thankful, but I’m sure Jasmine and the others would do it all again, even if they knew a word of thanks would never come, or that their gift-giving would never be reciprocated. Giving without thought of reward is itself the reward.

Not all of us are going to find ourselves in a position where we are called upon to give first aid to a stranger. But there are countless ways in which we can volunteer – in which we can give a gift just because it’s a good thing to do. Here in Southbank you can serve your neighbour through the church, or community service clubs like Rotary and Lions. The list goes on.

At St Johns, one of the reasons we seek to be people of service is that Jesus of Nazareth was one. Next month, as the church comes together on Maundy Thursday, we will hear of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. At first, his disciples were shocked by this man they revered humbling himself and serving them in this way.

But he made it clear that he simply had to give them this gift. He then insisted that, having set them an example, they should wash one another’s feet. In other words, they should help each other out, without thought of reward.

Whether it’s volunteering at the tennis, or assisting a distressed person on the street, we’re all going to have opportunities to be givers and receivers. The world will certainly be a better place if we embrace the chances we’re given to give and accept selfless gifts when we’re in need ourselves.

Tom Hoffman - Pastor

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