Giving Willingly

We generally think of generosity when we hear of someone giving millions for a new college stadium or of a billionaire donating a wing to a hospital. Those are fine examples of generosity and their impact is significant. But maybe that makes the rest of us think generosity isn’t an important part of our own character. Our wealth, or lack thereof, doesn’t need to limit our generosity.

We all hope to be on the receiving end of generosity, and many of us have been benefited from the generosity of others. But we can’t leave generosity only to those with ample means; generosity is not the exclusive duty of the rich and wealthy. The mistake is measuring generosity by the amount that is given.

I think of the occasions when I’ve benefited from the generosity of others, and I remember occasions when I have witnessed acts of others’ generosity. Some of the most pure examples of generosity were not grand in their amount. The widow in the Bible only gave two pennies, yet Jesus said she gave more than anyone else. The gift was costly to her.

I’m reminded of one occasion when a pastor had visited couple’s home on the occasion of the wife’s illness. He found the couple not at home but, knowing the added costs the family would be experiencing, he left a check in their mail box. Years later the pastor told me that the husband still called each year to thank him for the gift. It was a check for just $25 but that modest gift had great impact.

This story leads me to believe generosity is more about opportunity than money. If we’re attentive to those around us, we will see many chances to give at the right moment to make a real difference. When we’re truly generous, we give with no expectation. Better yet, give anonymously. Lastly, take action. I know that I have missed opportunities to make a difference because I hesitated. I put it off or waited for someone else to step in. When you see a need, act!

And we shouldn’t limit ourselves by assuming that money is the only form generosity takes, because we can all give generously of our time. We can all give generously of our patience. We can all give generously of our respect. It’s not the size of our gift, it’s the willingness and joy with which it’s given that is the mark of generosity.

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