The Bible is clear on its directive for us to be generous (Matthew 5:40, Luke 6:30, John 3:17, et al) and I think the vast majority of us sincerely try to be and believe that we are generous. In modern society, expressions of generosity are often defined by donations of money or goods, often publicly and sometimes for reasons other than for the good of the receiver (a tax deduction, to benefit one’s public reputation, etc., see Matthew 6:4). My point in raising these issues is not to diminish the value of such donations or to deride those that regularly make them; I simply think that God has a lot more in mind when He commands us to be generous.
In the well-known “God loves a cheerful giver” passage in 2 Corinthians (9:6-8), the apostle Paul alludes to a generous heart. What is meant here is that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we should be transformed into generous people; it should be part of our internal make-up. This means that, yes, we should share our money and goods, but we should also share our time, our talents, our ears, encouragement, joy, hospitality, etc. Further, opportunities for generosity are not always pleasant. Often, we are called to give of ourselves in situations where the receiver does not understand their own need and/or do not express any gratitude. It doesn’t matter – if we are truly generous we give anyway. Put simply, generosity must not simply be the sum of our charitable donations at tax time, it must be who we are.
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