the problem with generosity.
i have a client without a lot to call her own. she is disabled, so she does not have the status or understanding of the common person. she is poor, so she relies on food stamps to feed her and social security to help her pay rent for her tiny apartment. she says that she will not be spending the holiday with her family who live in close proximity because they don’t include her. they didn’t even wish her a happy birthday.
my client’s neighbors are her family. when she has had surgery, they have taken care of her physically, giving her baths and carrying her groceries and doing her laundry. they have spent time with her when she is confined to a couch alone.
but she has done the same for them. recently she gave her dresser and some dishes to her neighbor that she told me she “didn’t need.”
my client has given me so much. she has given me the opportunity to see the love of Jesus and what it means to extend that love to your neighbor…literally.
it is easy to consider myself a generous person by the world’s standards (which says we are to be progressive and enlightened by becoming better people) or even by religion’s standards (which says that the if the Bible says to do something then we must), but the truth is that both of these are rooted in selfish motives. whether we give to relieve our own guilt or to feel better about ourselves, we have missed the mark of true generosity by a mile.
webster’s dictionary defines to be generous as
openhanded. liberal giving. bighearted.
sunday in church, pastor brian said we like to think of generosity as a tool to relieve our own guilt. i couldn’t help but think about all the times i have given a dollar to a bum or the offering plate to feel as though i’ve done “something.” this is a greedy, ugly reality: doing “something” is a far cry from the radical sacrifice Jesus made for me.
when i finally do something, i like to put a limit on my generosity.
we limit the who (believe it or not, people love to stereotype and judge).
and we limit the when (katrina, 911, joplin..these are all noble causes, but what about every other time people need help?).
recently i’ve been moved to ask God how He wants me to exercise radical love and generosity with my life, from the little opportunities to the bigger. i am blessed to have examples like my client. she has hardly anything to call her own, but whatever she does have she holds in her hand, openhanded.
why are the poorest among us the most generous examples of Jesus’ love?