A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Psalm 11:25
Giving and generosity heightens during the Christmas holiday season. But I prefer to think of being generous a 24//7 activity that occurs 365 days a year (366 in leap year, of course).
Some people are naturally generous – with their time, their talents and their resources. Some, however, are almost cruelly stingy which was brought to mind by a recent event. A neighbor was moving and had workers helping with transporting their furniture.
My wife, a natural giver, dropped by at lunch time and asked if she could make lunch for the hired hands. My neighbor was sitting in his kitchen eating his lunch. He looked up and said: “We’re not feeding them!”
This was right before Christmas when one would think that there would be some seasonal inclination of being kind to one’s fellow man. I still shake my head when I think of his response.
My wife and I had a meeting recently because she thought my generosity was getting out of hand. I love to do little things. I really wish I had more resources to do even more, but my wife feared that I was going to give away the store.
During our “meeting”, she said she wanted to have a budget so that she knew my giving t would be controlled. She suggested a number, and I said: “Sure, I’m happy to do that,” Then she realized that she had set the number too high, but it was done.
Now I have license to give and a generous budget she approved.
In the past couple of months, I’ve given a $100 bill to several couples who have such busy lives that they have had little time or resources to go and have a nice date. The only thing I asked in return was that they tell me where they went. One gave me a thank you note detailing their date, complete with their menu selections.
It’s a small gesture of kindness and generosity. The amount of money is not large but it’s impact is seen and felt. I am encouraging them to do something for themselves – have a date with each other at a nice restaurant – something they might not have done on their own.
Over the years in my ministry work for MentorLink, I have encountered a number of people who are wonderful folks. Some of them have vibrant ministries. Some have needs that are way beyond their means. I am happy to chip in when I can because I know that I am investing in their lives which will produce fruit.
Sometimes the needs are personal – a badly broken leg of a son in Kenya or a complicated tooth extraction for a diabetic wife of a friend in India. I can’t do everything, but I prayerfully consider each instance and do what I can.
I helped a young woman in Africa with her wedding to a pastor. She calls me “Dad”, although that is more a term of familiarity than of family connection. I’m known as Uncle Bill most of the time.
I may never see her in person again, but it makes me smile to know that I helped someone celebrate a special event. Having paid for my own daughter’s wedding, I can candidly say that African weddings are quite inexpensive by comparison.
Generosity does not mean money. It can be include wisdom. For me, that can translate into spending time with the next generations by spending time mentoring them. It can even be by writing a book like Gary Trawick.
Gary’s book, “Give Them Another Chance” contains anecdotal essays from his life as a Judge sitting on criminal cases in a small North Carolina town. It ends with a “Letter to Alex”, his 16-year-old grandson. In the letter, Gary gives advice to make life more meaningful, such as learning a second language and reading a newspaper.
One of his suggestions is to take a mission trip, something I have also recommended. He also suggests being a generous volunteer, another of my suggestions. I won’t spoil it by giving all of his advice.
His book is short and pithy, a good read for young and old. You don’t have to write a book to be generous. They are other way which use your own unique talents and resources – it’s up to you to figure out how to give yourself away.
You might be inspired by the song below which has the following lyrics: “I came here with nothing, but all you have given me; Jesus make new wine out of me.”
As we enter into a New Year, people often make resolutions. May I be so bold as to suggest one: make a commitment to be more generous this next year. You will be surprised at the hidden and unexpected dividends you receive. While you can’t out give God, you can make the world a little better place.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Top on my list of generous things is to mentor the next generation. It only takes time and a little effort, but well worth it.
FURTHER READING: Gary Trawick’s book “Give Them Another Chance” is a worthwhile read.
WORSHIP: Listen to New Wine featuring Bethany Barnard.
MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
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