We have been talking about using our tax refunds as an opportunity to be generous and make a difference. Earlier this week we discussed some organizations where we could put our money that could really make that difference. Today let’s talk about generosity since this is a prime opportunity to be generous!
What does it mean to be generous?
Some definitions and thoughts:
[Generosity] Is at its core a lifestyle, a lifestyle in which we share all that we have, are and ever will become as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace. (From Contagious Generosity)
Readiness or liberality in giving or freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character (dictionary.com)
Showing a readiness to give more of something, as in money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected (Oxford Dictionary)
A great perspective on being generous from comes from this article which captures the idea so well. It talks about all of the benefits of giving and without mentioning an actual creator or designer indicates we are made to give and designed to share as indicated by how we profit (in non-material ways) when we do so.
The first use of the word generous in the Bible happens in Deuteronomy in the midst of a discussion of the sabbatical year – the year where debts are to be canceled in Israel. It talks about what to do with the poor in Israel. The command of what not to do–harden your hearts or close your hands–contrasted with what God’s people are commanded to do which is freely open your hand and lend. The section ends with a reminder that the poor would always be among them therefore they were called to freely open their hands to the needy and poor in the land. Here generosity is clearly giving freely, the opposite being a closed hand and heart. So we can give without being generous and we can be generous when we have little to give.
The last use of the word generous comes in 1 Timothy 6:18. It is a section in which Paul is addressing those who are “rich in this present world”. I think that assessment applies to a lot of us. Paul says to the rich – do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.
Good works. Is this what we seek to be rich in? Imagine if we pursued this kind of wealth with the same fervor with which we seek material things.
There is no prescription in scripture for how to be generous. No exact amount or percentage or type of gift we need to give. It is an open hand, an open heart, a readiness to share whatever it is we have and all of this is to be accompanied always by an awareness of the poor among us, those in need.
Giving is not an obligation, a must do, something to check off our list to feel like we have done our bit. No, giving is an opportunity, a chance to partner with the loving, compassionate God of creation to make a tangible difference in a world where suffering is all too common and changing this world, even just a little, from darkness to light is something to celebrate not avoid, click past or feel guilt about. Generosity is beautiful, for the giver most of all!