There is a well-known proverb in Brazil that goes like this: “When you give to the poor it is the same as if you were making a loan to God.” All of us have been the recipient of generous and unpredictable gifts but the most memorable ones are always the ones we least expect. As a young pastor in Brazil I was the recipient of one such gift.

It happened at a time of tremendous duress in the life of my family. And it came from one who was among the poorest of the poor. An older pastor who lived in another town; one I had paid an unexpected visit to months before. A visit that would stay with me forever because I walked into his humble home only to catch a glimpse of his wife in the kitchen trying to warm the baby formula by burning newspapers under a small pot. They had no money to replenish their cooking gas tank and I was able to help him at his time of need.

But now it was my turn to suffer. The country’s finances were in shambles, inflation was at 3,000% and we lost all our support from the churches. My water was cut off and soon my electricity would be too if I didn’t pay.

One early morning the bell rang. I went to the gate and saw a little man carrying a big, beaten up case. It was that same pastor, who had gotten on a bus and traveled two hours to my city. He said, “Brother, I have heard of your troubles. I don’t have any money, but I want you to have this.” He handed me the case – it was his guitar, the only one he owned, the one used to lead worship at his church. He wanted me to sell it and use the money to pay my water bill.

I had tears rolling down my face and even though I didn’t keep the guitar, as I looked at the sincere and genuine face of that dear man, I learned that day about how the joy of giving was so much sweeter than the joy of receiving. Jesus said it this way: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

This week, as I thought of the implications of the death of Christ, I remembered that story again and my mind went back to the words of John 3:16. God gave us the greatest gift anyone could give – His own Son. We who receive forgiveness and a chance to live with God forever in heaven have no adequate metrical instruments to assess the size and value of this indescribable gift.

We should be elated, exhilarated, insanely infected with joy every awaken moment of our lives. But if there was a way for us to peek into heaven, we might very well catch a glimpse of God dancing with the stars, hardly containing Himself with divine laughter every time a person comes to the knowledge of His Son. Why? Because while we are the ones who receive, He is the one who gives. And the giver always gets the better deal out of the exchange. So this Easter season, let’s loan a lot to God by helping the poor and needy around us. All for His glory.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade