My friend, Lynn, pulled her arms out of her coat. We had paused in our city walk to chat with a woman on a bench. She was slumped in a nest of her worldly possessions. The woman responded with caution but soon we found things in common — children, places lived, and more. We rose to leave. Without any fuss, Lynn placed her coat on the woman’s lap. Lynn’s firm and sincere look trumped the woman’s initial objections. This was a gift that could not be refused.
I was stunned. It never even occurred to me give away my coat. I struggle with “do I give cash” to a homeless person? Not…should I give my coat?! Lynn’s response on that cold February morning remains one of the most profound moments of generosity that I have ever witnessed.
“What?” She asked as we walked away. I apparently was still staring in awe at her. “She was cold. I had a coat. I can share.”
Christian writer, John Bunyan, said “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” My friend, Lynn, lived boldly and generously that day in the city.
Our primary role model for generosity is our Heavenly Father. He provides for our eternal salvation (John 3:16-17, Ephesians 1:3-14). He gives life’s daily necessities (Matthew 6:25-33). He grants requests for wisdom (James 1:5, 1 Kings 3:3-39). He pours out His Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Our increased understanding of the Lord’s gift-giving furthers our own open-handedness. We are to go and do likewise.
Generosity increases as our trust in God deepens. It can actually be a measure of our faith. Do we trust God with our needs? Rock-solid faith in God allows us to be less dependent on the extra food in our pantries, back-up tools in the shed, and the constant what-if preparations.
This is not to suggest we live frivolous or unplanned days. But it does call us to a profound willingness to give of ourselves and our possessions. The Lord calls us to care for others. As our concern for others becomes greater than our love for our stuff, we become a more generous people.
Generosity is the sincere desire to give to someone else. It’s an action that comes from the heart and out of our own abundance. How are you generous? With your time? Abilities? Finances? Are there ways you can be more generous as you live our your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ?
Practical Tips and Tools
Generosity emerges in many different ways. In this season of life, how are you most able to be generous? Check out this Ways to Be Generous slide show.
Start a gratitude journal. At the end of the day, jot down all that you are grateful for over the past 24 hours. As we become more aware of our blessings, we recognize our greater capacity to be generous.
Be emotionally generous. Being kind to others often puts us in a vulnerable position. The feelings may not be returned. Nevertheless, make the effort to encourage those around you. See positive traits and compliment them. Choose to listen and give your appreciation and empathy and kindness.