I was just thinking…

I’ve been thinking recently about generosity.

I live in a part of the world where many people are in need. There is a shortage of decent housing, a lack of jobs and it’s not uncommon for individuals to go door to door or stand at traffic lights asking for food or financial help. It’s unusual for a week to go by without at least one person knocking on my door asking for something to eat or clothing. I like to help, but at times, the little I give feels very small and insignificant. On other occasions, the pressures of my own household and caring for my kids makes the giving harder, as I wonder how we will manage without the items I’m donating to someone else. Regardless of my circumstances, I believe that being generous and giving to others is something that God would have me do and in Deuteronomy chapter 15 verse 10 we are told to give to the poor generously.

Good for your health

Studies have found that generosity is surprisingly beneficial, not just to the receiver but to the giver as well. It’s been found that people who make being generous part of their lifestyle, tend to be happier and healthier. Generosity helps to create a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in their lives and focuses their attention away for the space they alone inhabit, enlarging their view onto the world beyond.

The book of Proverbs speaks about generosity. In chapter 11, verse 25 it says:

The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

It sounds great doesn’t it? But for some, the thought of giving away a portion of their finances, when they are already stretched to the limit causes them to break out in a cold sweat. Fortunately having a generous spirit has nothing to do with the amount in your bank account and can be cultivated despite the size of your monthly paycheck.

It’s not about the ‘Benjamins’

No matter what your financial situation, here are a few ways to grow your generosity:

  1. Offer to mow the lawn, babysit or perform some other chore for a neighbour for free.
  2. Try walking or riding a bike to work or school one day a week for a month. Collect the money you save on petrol or bus fare and give it away to a person in need.
  3. Help a co-worker or a fellow student with a project or task.
  4. Find at least one person each day that you can give a sincere compliment to.
  5. Donate your skills. Maybe you are a hairdresser, a designer, a tutor, whatever it is to find someone who needs your skill and give your time to help them.
  6. Give a dollar. Sometimes starting small is the only way to begin, so each week donate one dollar (or whatever currency you use) to someone. Make it a habit.
  7. Spend time with people in need. It can be easier to show generosity towards people with faces and stories than to unknown masses. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen and get to know people who would benefit from generosity.
  8. Spend time with people who are generous. Learn from people who live generous lives, ask them how they became generous and find ways to incorporate their wisdom into your own situation.
  9. Make an effort to be kind and courteous to everyone. Servers at a restaurant, telesales people, bank cashiers, the lady at the checkout. It costs nothing to be polite and by being generous with your smile and respect, you may make their day easier.

Start an epidemic

Remember that kindness is contagious. By being generous and becoming a generous person, those around you will learn from your example and you may well find that you are on the receiving end of the generosity you encouraged in someone else.

You may find it hard to forget your own needs and think of others.  It can be even harder to give of your own resources if you see your portion as being finite and limited to your own ability to provide. It makes a big difference when you understand that your provision comes from God and that even as you give to others, he will continue to take care of you and supply all your needs if you just ask him.

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