Generosity describes the behavior of a person or organization in the process of deliberately sharing earthly possessions with others with a need or desire to have what the donor is willing to provide. Scrooge, the character created by Charles Dickens, is thought of as the ultimate change in a man from being miserly to that of being generous. Think about what the big change was in Scrooge. His wealth did not change. He turned away from a lonely life in which he focused on himself and creating money and other wealth to a life which included people like Tiny Tim, love and the needs of others. Generosity requires a focus upon other people and the world around us.
How can we go about making a drastic change like Scrooge did? Trusting in God is the starting point. We should be confident that God will take care of us rather than spending our days in worry about what disaster might befall us. Instead, God gives us opportunities to help others. The widow who gave her last mite was considered blessed because she was thinking about God and others (Mark 12:41-44). Do you remember the song, God Will Take Care Of You by Walter Stillman Martin? The first verse has these words: “Be not dismayed what e’er betide, God will take care of you.” The more we rely on God, the less we are preoccupied by our bank account and more prone to think of others.
In our society, we tend to be very conscious of material gain. How can we gain greater “financial security” as we are wont to call it? If we receive money from earnings or a gift, we need to be conscious that this is not a demand to spend it. We should make a distinction between our needs and our wants. Our wants should be satisfied after we have given our tenth to God, put another amount into savings and met our needs. When we discipline ourselves in this fashion, we can have greater confidence that we will be OK if a rainy day comes because we will know that we honored God along with meeting our basic needs.
Generosity has its own rewards. As we give freely, we are being more conscious about the needs of others and less about our own wants. We can see the blessings that come as our generosity is put to work. Helping others can be great therapy for our own problems. We can feel good about ourselves because we have exhibited love for others. 1 John 4:7-12 tells us, “Let us love one another, for love comes from God.”
Two other parts of generosity are time and energy. We can be generous with our time by volunteering with an organization such as our Church in programs designed to help others or a community organization. Another part of generosity is the use of our energy. It takes very little energy to smile or lend a helping hand to a person in need. The smile and hello could go a long way toward helping another person to brighten his or her day. Being generous in our time and energy could encourage another person to in turn help someone else.
While there might be some ego boost by claims of what money and possessions we have accumulated, ego is helped even more when we know that we have helped others. Generous people tend to be happier people because they bring happiness to others. You literally cannot take it with you. However much or little you have, think about how you can brighten the life of others through your generosity. We were created, in part, to help others. Are you able to make a list of five people you have helped in the last 24 hours?
How many of your “wants” could be used to help others through generosity? Probably all of us have more than the widow who put the mites in the collection. You are likely to meet someone every day with greater needs than yours. When God takes care of you, are you willing to be generous in sharing your wealth, time and energy? When you arrive in Heaven and are asked, “What have you done for others?,” what will you say?
Ken Oosting, Ph.D., [email protected]
THE STUDY QUESTIONS FOR “GENEROSITY” CAN BE FOUND WITH THIS ARTICLE AT nashchristian.com