Unable to attend the funeral after his Uncle Charlie died, a man who lived far away called his brother and told him, "Do something nice for Uncle Charlie and send me the bill."
Later, he got a bill for $200.00, which he paid. The next month, he got another bill for $200.00, which he also paid, figuring it was some incidental expense.
But, when the bills for $200.00 kept arriving every month, he finally called his brother again to find out what was going on.
"Well," said the other brother, "You said to do something nice for Uncle Charlie. So I rented him a tuxedo."
That's not exactly the most appropriate gift for someone who has died! But the story made me think about how we are often willing to give, even to sacrifice great amounts, and we are happy to do so once or twice. But we don't want it to become something we have to do for the rest of our lives.
For example, we're happy to have friends or family stay in our homes for a short while, but we don't want it to go on for years and years. We'll agree to teach a Bible class at church for a quarter or two, but we don't want to be stuck in the class for the rest of our life. We'll take a mission trip and live in squalid conditions for a week or two, but would never dream of moving there permanently.
And our hesitancy in situations like those is perhaps understandable. Unfortunately, we sometimes are tempted to have the same attitude when it comes to serving Christ. We're willing to give up everything for Christ -- at least, for a while. But for our whole lives? Always seeking to put others first? Always willing to forgive? Always willing to suffer and sacrifice for the cause of Christ?
We need to be reminded that Christianity is not a sprint, it's a long-distance marathon, and we must be willing to commit ourselves to run the race to the very end. Be forewarned -- it can be tiring. But "let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Gal. 6:9)