There is a person I know who can be very generous. She is the first person to want to help people she feels are needy and I’ve not ever known her to say no when someone comes to her for help. However there is a problem with how she helps; she holds her generosity over the head of the person, especially if she knows them well, to remind them of at a later date. Anyone who goes to her for help is essentially beholden to her and is risking a lifetime of “Remember that one time when I helped you…”
I have every belief that she has a generous heart but I often wonder what makes her need to remind others of just how generous she has been. Perhaps those she helps have not been thankful- even though her generosity shouldn’t rely on this I know that sometimes it’s easier to help thankful people. Maybe she feels that she doesn’t get enough attention and this is a way to focus people on her. I don’t know, but whenever I hear her talking about what she has done for others, especially if the recipient is sitting there too, I always say a prayer that God will help her heart understand that He sees her actions and that is enough.
Chapter 11: The Heart of the Gospel
If you have ever been in a situation of need you know that sometimes the call to be generous is next to impossible. There may not be enough money to cover your own needs let alone help financially anywhere else. However I am always reminded of the story of the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44). Here Christ said that the widow gave more because she gave from her need instead of her want. But in the call to be generous, maybe our society is missing the point. We tend to focus on money as an indicator of generosity, but being generous has much more to do than this.
Matthew Kelly said that Jesus wants us to become the most generous person in our sphere of influence. But how do we do that if we are poor or if we have very little to give because of our own present circumstances? Again, we have to understand that generosity doesn’t simply mean you’ve given the most money. We can give of our time and talents as well. We can volunteer to help within various ministries both within our church and in our community. We can become the prayer warrior that others turn to in their time of distress. We can be the sympathetic ear that is willing to listen to those who are facing difficulties. We can offer a smile and a joyous hello to all that we meet. We can leave notes of encouragement where others might find them. We can take a warm meal to someone we know is struggling. We can babysit for a harried mom and dad so that they can re-connect after a long stressful week at work.
Yes we are called to be good stewards of our money, but there are so many ways that we can be generous with our time, our compassion, our love, our patience, and our faith as well. To be truly generous people we must allow generosity to reach into every aspect of our lives.
Point to Ponder: Generosity is incredibly attractive.
I have to agree with this statement although I think that in order to be attractive generosity must be freely given with no strings attached. When we extend our help, in whatever way that is, we can’t do so with the hopes of being held higher above others. We simply have to do it because we are called to love one another as Christ loves us.
I disagree with Matthew Kelly that becoming generous should be a contest. Perhaps it’s just poor wording but to me this inspires generosity for the wrong reasons or that we should want to be better than others. We should want to be generous not because we want to race anyone else but because we want to emulate Christ who was by far the most generous person to ever live.
Verse to Live: “Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.” Proverbs 11:24-25
I have seen in my own life that when I am generous, God always makes sure that my needs are taken care of. The more I give to others of myself the more that God and others give to me. It is also true that in giving, I receive. There is a joy that comes in giving and unless we give completely of ourselves we simply will never know this joy.
Question to Consider: How is God inviting you to become more generous?
I don’t have much I can give in the way of money and so most of the time I give with my time and my talents. I volunteer for many things so I don’t feel Christ is calling me to be more generous with my time. But I do think that He may be calling me to be more generous with my words… I think I could do better at the things I say to encourage others, particularly my husband and children.
Your Turn: Do you simply equate generosity with money? Who is the most generous person you know? What makes them that way? How can you be more generous in your life?
Prayer: Jesus, liberate me from any inclination to be stingy.
Help me to know that true generosity should come from the heart and not from a need for recognition. Help me to have a loving, giving heart that longs to do your will.