Generosity is a spirit of life. It is not just a matter of giving away money and things, although that is a part of it. Our source of understanding generosity is neither Bill Gates nor Warren Buffet, although I have a great regard for them. Our template is God Himself as He is restoring His image in us. Christ in us is the hope of glory. He can empower us to be generous.
God is generous. He creates big, loves us lavishly and treats us like kings. He is building mansions for us; He will come and take us to heaven, personally. As He thinks of the whole world, He thinks of me. Though His mind is filled with mind-boggling concerns of the world, He is mindful of my little needs. God is generous in His details. His outlook is never sketchy.
The forgiveness of God made possible in Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of all generosity.
The forgiveness of God made possible in Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of all generosity. He paid the debt I could never repay. Wiped away the blot I could never erase. He is lifting me to heights I could never attain. None of this at a price but all freely given. Therefore, generosity is His initiative. When we experience such free-flowing grace, we become channels of His generosity. Jesus’ grace is the fountainhead of all human generosity.
Our generosity begins with forgiveness. We have tasted the sweet forgiveness of God given to us generously, freely and with no pre-conditions. Let us be generous in forgiving. When Jesus forgave the sin of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8), He did not even use the word forgive. When He said, “Go and sin no more” to her, nobody was there. When Jesus went into the house of Zacchaeus the Tax collector, there is no mention of a sermon on extortion or patriotism. His graceful and generous presence at his house even at the cost of criticism, condemnation and rejection by a section of the community was amazing.
We would be so awful if we were to expose a person before forgiving; if we were to make him/her feel miserable before releasing; if we were to forgive but bring it up again and again. When you forgive, do it generously. The only way we can do it is to see Jesus on the cross dying for our sins. Forgiving in love is the highest form of generosity. When our heart becomes light, our lips become gracious (generous) and hands become big.
Be generous in your appreciation. Offer compliments generously.
Be generous in your appreciation. Offer compliments generously. In Indian culture, appreciating one another and complimenting each other does not come easily. If we grew up without much appreciation, we will find it difficult to appreciate others. However, as we receive from God and begin to appreciate and compliment others, you will be surprised to see that what goes around comes back to you. However, I am not at all suggesting that one must flatter the other. Flattery is a deception. We must train ourselves to look at the bright side of every person and reflect a positive image to them. Make believing statements like, “I know you can do this.” Or “If I had my way, you would be in my team.” Or to someone young, “You rock!”
Let us be generous in small giving. There are so many places we interact with people who serve us. Bearers in restaurants, bell boys at hotels, parking attendants (where parking is not paid for), valet parking attendants, boys who carry groceries from the counters of a supermarket to your scooter/car, security guards at gated communities, auto rickshaw drivers and cab drivers are a few of them.
A cultural approach to this would be to offer a tip as a polite gesture. Leaving a decent tip for a good service is transactional. Verbal appreciation and decent tip would be a humane approach. But what would be a generous approach? If God has blessed you, and you are sensitive that all those that serve you struggle with poverty (at many of these places the employers just give them a meagre, nominal salary and expect them to survive on tips), then with a grateful heart to God can we leave a generous tip or offer a generous gratis to those that serve us? Such generosity does not wipe away their poverty but certainly lights up their heart, momentarily. For some, it is enough to face another tough day.
Most times, we are generous towards rich and stingy towards others.
Most times, we are generous towards rich and stingy towards others. When we are invited to weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and other social functions we tend to segregate our hosts and categorize them. To the rich we give expensive gifts and large amounts by way of reciprocation and sometimes to impress them. Probably, we think the rich will recognise us, return the favour in some form or the other and somehow we want to measure up to their status. I believe most rich people don’t care for the gifts but value your presence. If this is true then will a bouquet of flowers be sufficient?
When we are invited by those who are not rich, we are tight-fisted in our giving. We might give or spend just enough to reciprocate or as an obligation. However, when poor people invite us, let us be generous. They will not be able to return the favour and therefore your gifts would be purely out of generosity without any expectation whatsoever. Some people just send their gifts and not attend the function. Although your gifts may be generous, what will dignify your gift would be your presence. Sometimes our giving of gifts is also in the nature of “settling accounts”. We tend to ask, “What did they give us?” and “What should we be giving?” That is a ‘poor’ spirit of giving. It is difficult to be generous without a generous spirit.
For some of us, more than money, our space matters. Armrests in buses, trains and aeroplanes are a testing ground for our generosity. If you are in a middle seat, both the armrests are in question. In an isle or a window seat at least one armrest is yours. You could possibly share the common one but if it is contested be generous. Give up your privilege with a smile. Be generous. Remember it does not happen always.
Interesting things happen in church, too. Some members come early and occupy an aisle seat as they prefer it or more practically under a fan on a hot day. However, quite a few come late and must cross the aisle seat to occupy others. It is bad practice to come late, disturb the service and inconvenience someone who has come early. However, be generous. Slide and give space to the late-comer. Sometimes, the latecomers are more than the seats available in a pew. They expect the early comer to ‘adjust’. Be generous to leave the pew for their comfort and you find your own space. Go the ‘extra mile’.
More than money and space, what becomes more and more precious is your time.
As the Lord prospers you, you will come into money and comforts. More than money and space, what becomes more and more precious is your time. Jesus ceased from ‘ministry’ and spent time with His disciples. He invited himself to a supper at Zacchaeus’ house. He spent time with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. After an amazing resurrection, Jesus had time to have breakfast with his disciples, walk and chat with Cleopas and his companion. Can we be with people instead of doing things for them? Being generous in time with people is better than generous in things for the people. We will become a little bit more like Christ. After all He left heaven and came down to be with us.