"Give It Away" The Story Behind The Song

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Give It Away - The Story Behind The Song
Written by Gloria Gaither
 
Bill’s grandfather used to say, “There are basically two kinds of people in this world – givers and takers – so decide which one you want to be.”  The longer we live the more convinced we become that he was right.  There are big-hearted, generous people and there are clutching, stingy people.
    
We have also observed that the attitude with which a person approaches life doesn’t seem to have much to do with how much one has.  We’ve seen unselfish, generous poor people and we’ve seen tight-fisted, grasping rich people.  We’ve seen extravagantly liberal givers who had means, and we’ve seen miserly, greedy poor people.  It all depends on how we choose to spend the days allotted to us.
    
Both Bill and I had Irish grandmothers who lived for the joy of giving. 
Though neither of them had much of this world’s goods, it was impossible to get out the door when we went to visit without them thrusting into our hands a head of cabbage or a loaf of freshly baked bread.  There was always a glass of lemonade for sipping in the porch swing, or a cup of hot chocolate when we blew in from an Indiana or Michigan snow storm.
    
Be it a “mess of corn” from the garden for supper or a hot bowl of potato soup “before you go,” something was always given because, well, it’s just more fun that way.  The “gift” was our excuse to stay a little longer, to talk a little more, or to “enjoy this fine summer evening.”
    
Today we live in a world suffering from almost an epidemic of depression.  We’re taught to guard our own turf, be independent, and to not get too involved with the people next door.  We’re cautioned to be self-contained, self-protective, and, ironically, self-indulgent.
    
An old friend of ours told us early in our marriage, “You’ll only be able to keep what you give away.”  We’ve found what he said to be true.  And not only do we keep what we give away, we seem to lose, in one way or another, what we insist on keeping. 
    
But I am convinced that one of the most important principles Jesus taught was, “Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat.  But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.  In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”  (John 12:24-26 The Message)
       
Of course, Jesus’ words were more than a platitude.  He was about to become the living, walking proof of what He said.  Without the cross, without the tomb, without throwing His life willingly away, there would have been no resurrection.  Just as He invites us to become incarnational – to be willing to deliver the seed of God to the world at any cost to our personal security, He calls us to be redemptive as well by saving back nothing, throwing ourselves away, so that a whole crop of new life, peace, patience, forgiveness and love can grow out of the seed of what we give away.
    
In the meantime, we find such joy in the process – and freedom.  We don’t have to guard, insure or protect what we give away.  We can walk around without fear of being robbed, mugged or assaulted.  We can be sure the principle of treasure is in God’s hands and the income from it is being used and reused and reinvested, accomplishing amazing things in the process.
    
This song is not just a nice feeling.  It’s a revolution!  What could happen if joy in giving everything away should take over the world?  Jesus taught it could.  He said giving ourselves away could perfect us.  He said giving away our food to the hungry, something to drink to the thirsty, our hospitality to the stranger, our clothing to the destitute and our care to the sick would make us heirs of God’s whole kingdom.  And physical food, water, housing, clothing and care are just the tip of the iceberg!  What if we were to truly offer food for the soul, water for the spirit, the shelter of a place to belong, and covering for the raw and exposed heart.
    
And guess what?  We can’t outgive God!  Get this!  “Be generous.  Give to the poor.  Get yourself a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bank robbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on.  It’s obvious, isn’t it?  The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”  (Luke 12:33-34 The Message)
    
The best anti-depressant to be found is this prescription from the old-timers – and from the Master of Life:
 
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Give It Away
Lyrics by Gloria Gaither  Music by Benjamin Gaither
 
He was workin' his garden when I happened by;
He waved me over with that look in his eye,
And he started in breakin' off some ears of corn.
"Here, boy, today this corn is just right;
Just boil it up for your supper tonight.
I've learned it's true what my pappy used to say -
Nothin's quite as good 'til you give it away."
 
If you want more happy than your heart can hold;
If you wanna stand taller, if the truth were told,
Take whatever you have and give it away!
If you want less lonely and a lot more fun
And deep satisfaction when the day is done,
Throw your heart wide open and give it away!
 
There's been a lotta water over the dam
Since that day in the garden with my Uncle Sam,
So I hope you'll hear these words I have to say -
There are two kind of folks - takers and givers;
There are gripers and complainers and big-hearted livers -
It depends on how we choose to spend our days -
We can hoard up all we've got or give it all away...
 
If you want more happy than your heart can hold;
If you wanna stand taller, if the truth were told,
Take whatever you have and give it away!
If you want less lonely and a lot more fun
And deep satisfaction when the day is done,
Throw your heart wide open and give it away!
 

 

Want to read more stories behind the songs?  You can find more in Gloria's book, Something Beautiful

Click here to purchase your copy!