Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 21 Oct 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
I was sitting at the Melbourne airport lounge one evening with my wife waiting for a flight back to Sydney and suddenly realised I was short of money, and needed to find an ATM to get cash. Two seats down from me a young man overheard the conversation, and said, I can loan you some money, you know.
He was genuine, and meant what he said. I was somewhat surprised by the generous offer, and declined because I knew there would be an ATM at Sydney airport. I thanked him, and saw him again when we arrived in Sydney, as he waved goodbye. I found this to be an incredibly generous act—a complete stranger offering me a loan of some money. He had never met me before, and I did not know him.
What prompted such generosity? He was a good-hearted guy who thought I was in trouble, which I wasn’t of course. But it was an incredibly moving moment for me. I wondered if I would be so generous myself to a complete stranger? There is something wonderful about someone with a generous spirit. Giving your time, love, patience, attention and affection are all aspects of generosity. Sharing a smile with someone on the street, offering a hug to a friend, or taking time for a loved one are simple acts to perform, yet they reap huge benefits.
It was Norman Vincent Peale who wrote this:
When you become detached mentally from yourself and concentrate on helping other people with their difficulties, you will be able to cope with your own more effectively. Somehow, the act of self-giving is a personal power-releasing factor.
Mother Teresa said: “Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace” and Winston Churchill: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
Author Thomas Carlyle tells how, when he was a boy, a beggar came to the door. His parents were out and he was alone in the house. On a boyish impulse, he broke into his own savings bank and gave the beggar all that was in it, and he tells us that never before or since did he know such sheer happiness as came to him in that moment. There is indeed joy in giving.
An admirer of the great German composer Johannes Brahms left him 1,000 pounds in his will. Upon learning about the bequest, Brahms was deeply moved. “It touches me most deeply and intimately,” he wrote to a friend. “All exterior honours are nothing in comparison.”.
Generosity is not limited to money
We may think of generosity in terms of money—the Webster Dictionary actually defines generosity as the trait of being willing to give of your time or money, and that’s not a bad definition. But I’m sure it goes a lot deeper than that. In today’s world, money is often the most effective way of helping out, say for a famine or an appeal to help people who are starving. But it has a much deeper impact than just a financial one—it has the power to influence and promote peace and justice.
C.S. Lewis was walking one day with J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, in Cambridge when the two were approached by a shabbily-dressed man asking for money. Lewis fished out of his pocket all his spare change and handed it to the man. Tolkien chided Lewis, saying that the man would likely use it for drink. “Well,” said Lewis, “I’d probably use it for drink myself.”
We should give wisely, but sometimes we simply give out of the goodness of our hearts. How often have you seen a homeless young person sitting on a city street, and you felt obligated to give—even though you sense he may waste it. I like what Proverbs 11:24 says in The Message paraphrase:
The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
According to the Bible, generosity is not limited to a monetary gift. Proverbs 22:9 says, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Generosity can involve money, food, time or anything else that we have to give. Jesus generously gave respect to those who were considered unrespectable, such as the woman at the well (John 4:1-26) and Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-9).
I think that we should be generous people because, according to the Bible, all that we have comes from God. That makes us merely stewards, but not owners, of all of our possessions. In 1 Chronicles 29:14 (NIV), the Bible says, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” All that we have belongs to God.
The Bible says that generosity leads to blessing. In Proverbs 11:25 (NIV), the Bible tells us, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” God draws near to those who are generous, lend freely and act with justice (Psalm 112:5). If you give generously, then God will pour out more blessings upon you than you even have room for (Malachi 3:10).