What does generosity mean? It is the quality of being kind or the fact of being plentiful.
When I was thinking about this, I came upon a statistic that looked at how often the word generosity has been used over the years. There was an all-time peak in the 1780s and since then, its use has steadily declined. Does this mean we are less generous in present-day times? I have no idea, but I thought it was interesting.
It does not always mean financial generosity. We can be generous with our time, our God-given gifts and abilities or by encouraging someone. Even a smile as we pass by a stranger is generous.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 it says ‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.’
This passage encourages us to be generous (cheerfully) as it promises that God will bless us abundantly too if we are. Have you ever noticed that once you start behaving in a certain way, the people around you respond and do likewise? If I offer to help with a neighbour’s shopping, then quite often, another neighbour will offer to do something else. Paul assures us in this verse, that generosity does not come at the risk of future poverty, but that it is the best route to prevent future deprivation!
I have a very generous friend and she is a testament to this verse. There is always room for more at her table or in her house. She always has time for you even though ‘on paper’ she has a large family and is super busy. God is blessing her richly in many ways.
In Leviticus 19:9-10 it says ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner.’
This is saying don’t keep everything you have or own for yourself. That way, you can offer to help someone out, either financially or by lending them something you have, or inviting them for a meal or taking them one. There are lots of ways to be generous – be creative!
What you keep is all you have. What you give, God multiplies.
During this time of Coronavirus, it shows how uncertain worldly things can be. Jobs and finances, in particular, are not where we should be putting our hope. God is the only reliable constant.
‘Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.’ 1 Timothy 6:17-19
This is asking us to invest in our eternal lives as Christians. Our time here on earth is fleeting, but once we are called home by God, we are there for all eternity. Use this time while we are here to love others, look out for friends, family and neighbours in need. Be generous.