A CASE FOR GENEROSITY
Generosity is the act of giving freely and willingly, without expecting anything in return. According to the Miriam Webster dictionary, generosity means readiness or liberality in giving. Freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character. Something that is defined as a generous act: We thanked him for his many generosities. It can be compared to largeness or fullness; amplitude. It is an act of kindness and selflessness, and it has the power to transform not only the life of the recipient, but also the life of the giver.
For the giver, generosity has been shown to have numerous positive effects on mental health. It can reduce stress and anxiety, and it has been linked to increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Studies have also shown that generosity can lead to improved physical health. It has been associated with lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a longer lifespan.
In addition to these physical and mental health benefits, generosity can also strengthen relationships and foster a sense of community. When we give to others, we create connections and show people that we truly care. This can lead to increased feelings of social support and belonging, which are essential for an overall sense of contentment.
For the recipient, generosity can have a profound impact on their well-being and quality of life. It can provide them certain resources that they might otherwise not have had access to, such as food, shelter, special opportunities or medical care. It can also give them hope and a sense of purpose; it can help them feel valued and appreciated. Shut-ins, or elderly who struggle with low self-esteem, depression and suicidal ideation may be dissuaded from negative ideation through someone’s generosity whether in word or deed.
Generosity can be like a tiny stone thrown into the middle of a large body of water, its ripples spread far out from shore having a positive effect on many otherwise not touched. When we show kindness and generosity, we may inspire others to pay it forward which creates a cycle of giving that is a benefit to everyone involved.
As we head into the new year, we can look to Jesus as the embodiment of love, generosity and selflessness. Throughout the Gospels, even when He is exhausted and filled with grief, rather than taking a siesta or thinking about himself, the scripture says Jesus went out and healed them all. An example of this can be found in the account of when his cousin John the Baptist was beheaded (Matt 14:1-14). Rather than hide somewhere and become immobilized through grief, instead, He ministers all the more to the broken and the disenfranchised. By His very example, Jesus consistently reflected compassion towards others, even those who were considered outcast or socially unworthy.
Another example of Jesus' generosity is when he healed a leper who was considered unclean and not allowed to be in public due to his wasting skin disease(Matt 8:2-4;Mark1:40; Luke 5:12-14). “Unclean! Unclean!” That is what a leper had to cry out as he advanced upon any type of public gathering. Ignoring the shame, and people fleeing in disgust, Jesus not only reached out to connect with the afflicted man against the societal norms of the day, but the leper found the generous gift of healing in the touch of the Lord. This act of kindness and compassion showed Jesus' willingness to be abundant in His ministry to those who were marginalized and ostracized.
Another example of the generosity of the Lord is when, on several occasions, He fed huge crowds by multiplying whatever was at hand. On one occasion it was a little boy’s lunch of just a few loaves of bread and fish (John 6:8-11). These miraculous demonstrations of Jesus' willingness to provide for the physical needs of others, even when resources were scarce, is evidence again of His amazing kindness.
In addition to these acts of physical generosity, Jesus also demonstrated benevolence of spirit by offering forgiveness and acceptance to all who came to Him, regardless of their background or sin. This is exemplified in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31). Jesus described the story of a father who generously welcomes back his son who had squandered his inheritance and lived among the swine. When the son finally returns home in repentance, the father was waiting for him with open arms and a feast.
Jesus' generosity was characterized by a deep love and concern for others, and a willingness to give of himself fully and selflessly. Here are a few ways we can follow His lead and practice generosity:
~Donate to a charity or nonprofit organization that helps those in need. This could be a food bank, a homeless shelter, or an organization that provides assistance to desperate families.
~Volunteer your time and energy to help others. This could be through working at a soup kitchen or helping to deliver gifts or necessities to those who are shut-ins. It could be shoveling a snowy driveway for an elderly neighbor.
~Give gifts to those who are less fortunate. This could be through a toy drive or by simply reaching out to someone you know who might be struggling and offering a thoughtful card or bringing them a meal.
~Practice acts of kindness and generosity towards others on a daily basis. This could be as simple as holding the door open for someone or offering a warm smile and a kind word to a stranger.
Remember that it's not just about the material gifts we give, but also about the love and kindness we show toward others that will reflect the love of God. We do not do kind deeds in order to 'get' something. However, scripture clearly says, “give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over shall men give unto your bosom” (Luke 6:38). It also says “as you have done unto others, it shall be done unto you” ( Matt 25:40) and, “We will reap what we sow” (Gal 6:7).
May this new year find us filled to overflowing with the oil of the Holy Spirit, complete through His love for us and sealed; filled with His radiance as bright lights, concurrently moving in His power helping where we can, a shining city set on a hill, reflecting the generous heart of our great King Jesus. GM
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labor and not to seek reward,
Except that of knowing that I do your will.