I’m a fairly new Christian. I keep hearing about the importance of generosity, but don’t have a lot of extra money. Does being generous have to wait until I have enough to give?
Money tends to be the default when we think about giving. In some ways, it is easy to give money and think we have been generous. Yet, generosity isn’t just about giving money. God’s desire is that we have generous hearts.
God blesses us in many areas and asks us to be generous because He has been generous with us. Jesus shed His blood to pay the penalty each of us owe for the penalty of our sin. There is no greater sacrifice than giving one’s life for another. When we are generous, we honor God, continue His work on earth, and show that we trust Him.
Here are three ways we can include generosity in our lives.
One of the ways we can be generous is with our time. Many organizations utilize volunteers: churches, hospitals, homeless shelters, libraries, museums, retirement homes, schools. The opportunities are almost endless.
Often the first step to determining where to volunteer is to determine what you are passionate about. Then look for opportunities that fill that interest.
Being generous with our time does not have to be limited formal ways of volunteering our time. Years ago a new neighbor walked past my house as I was walking up the driveway. We said hi and chatted for a moment. She told me she was headed to the ice cream store with her kids and asked if I would like to join them. I said no, I had a stack of things to get done. When I got back in the house, I realized I was in the middle of washing dishes. Those dishes could easily have waited for me to enjoy ice cream with my neighbor. Because I was not focused on being generous with my time, I missed a great opportunity to be generous with my neighbor.
Our culture tends to shy away from showing deep emotions. The loss of a child to cancer, the sudden and unexpected loss of a spouse of 40 years, loss of a much loved and well-paying job, or a tragic accident are all places were intense emotions are felt and need to be worked through.
We can provide invaluable support to people who are suffering when we allow them to feel and express intense emotions. We often, in sympathy and empathy, feel similar emotions and leave feeling drained and exhausted. But our willingness to walk along side others and be vulnerable with our emotions can have lasting and significant effect. Sometimes we know the impact of our gift at the time; other times we may never know this side of heaven. In either case God uses our emotional offering not only for the other person’s benefit, but for our own as well.
I have a friend who is in a retired engineer. In his position, he had the opportunity to work on some large and significant projects related to the cars we drive today. I am continually impressed with his desire to use his knowledge to help other people. He regularly tutors high school and adult students in math, calculus, science, and biology.
Not one of us knows everything in the world, but every one of us knows something well enough to help someone else. The help that we can provide might be as simple as sewing on a button or as complex as understanding how sine and cosine function in trigonometry. We impart our knowledge to others so they can learn and grow and we have the satisfaction of watching them grow.
Generosity was never meant to be a burden. God blesses us with time, emotions, intellect, and money so that we can experience the joy that comes from giving freely. Generosity is a way we can express our gratitude to God for everything He has provided for us.