Generosity breeds more generosity. For me, it also something that is learned, not instinctively given. I am an only child, and consequently grew up to be rather stingy. Not naturally, I hope, but because I never had to share with anyone. Being generous was something I learned from others.
Generosity is also contagious. The more kindness and charity that I am shown, the more I want to bestow that on others. I can recall very vividly the numerous times that people in my life have shown me an abundance of generosity. From the older couple who gave me a $100 when I was a young adult to help make ends meet. To the boss who helped pay for my first international mission trip. From the friend who dropped everything to come pick me up from the airport. To the mentor who made time for me in her busy schedule every week. From the friends and family who send financial support every year for my mission trips. And so on and so on…
I want to be known as a generous person. I am still very much a work-in-progress. But every day it seems I am reminded why I find this such a noble attribute. I have been blessed with several very generous friends. And all of them give abundantly from their heart of all that they have. Some love to give gifts. Some love to give time. Whatever they have to offer, they love to give.
To be transparent, I will confess that I tend to be very stingy with desserts. In my house it is a continuous “joke” because neither I, nor my husband, are very apt to sharing desserts. Sometimes we even fight over the last cookie (okay, always). I can also be stingy with my time. Perhaps not in the worst way, but I value time, and in wanting to spend it wisely I am tempted to also spend it selfishly.
Within the last six years I have developed a passion for missions. This was surprising and unpredicted, but heart-changing all the same. I have acquired a special place in my heart for the homeless. Perhaps this comes from my home-body nature, feeling sympathy for those who don’t have the safe comfort of a place to call home. Or perhaps it is because I’ve never actually been homeless myself. But whatever the reason, I feel an undeniable prompting to show this demographic of people generosity.
Internationally, this generosity is much easier when you compare many nations depravity with our American abundance. It is very easy for me to visit the Philippines and do without common comforts, because mostly I am surrounded by villages that have so little. True, I sacrifice my money and my time to go there, two things I try to be a prudent steward of, but mostly I try to be generous with my heart. I hope to give out of all that I have so that they may know the one Source of life.
There are a few passages in the Bible that speak on this topic that really move me:
“And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 14:41-44)
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17)
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” (Matthew 10:8)
“Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.” (Proverbs 28:27)
“Behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that [Jesus] was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:37-50)
I hope that you do not easily forget the generosity that you have been shown. And I hope that it takes root in your heart and springs forth a contagious generosity that blesses others.