Why Generosity Matters
The annual generosity of Americans is now about $400 billion and that does a tremendous amount of good. Schools and churches can operate; research can be conducted; food is distributed. Each one of the 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States can tell you the story of a life transformed because a donor gave generously. But can it tell you about the other life transformed, namely, the donor?
We are reminded – even challenged – throughout the Bible to live generously. It is the one thing in which God tells us to test Him (Malachi 3:10). All around us we see opportunities to apply our generosity, and yet very few people believe they are doing all they can to help others. Whether it is giving money, time, assistance, friendships, shelter, or any number of giving opportunities, I’m left to wonder: Do we always feel a sense we could give more because the need remains OR because we know the extraordinary impact generosity has on us?
In a recent conversation with my son, he asked if I could remember the largest tip I ever received when I was working my way through high school or college. I couldn’t. However, when he asked if I could remember the largest tip I ever gave someone else, I immediately recalled the moment, the place, the person. Could it be because I remember the feeling associated with giving at a level that was unexpected? To go beyond the limitations of what the norms called for and do something extraordinary? And to do so for no other reason than to be generous? The happiness of doing something for others far exceeds the fleeting sensation of being on the receiving end of a wonderful gift.
In the coming weeks, the giving season will be upon us again. I hope you’ll accept my invitation to make this a particularly generous year and, in doing so, find the fulfillment found in scripture. Make the biggest gift to any organization in your life. Give an anonymous gift to someone you know is hurting. Give the very best of yourself to someone struggling in a difficult time. They’ll feel the impact, but you’ll be changed.
Paul C. Miles