Open Heart, Open HandsGenerosity is freely giving and sharing from what we have.
It is providing more than enough of what is needed and starts with how we think about “our stuff,” “our money” and “our time.” James 1:17 (NIV) says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” When we recognize that what we have is from God, we don’t hang on to it as tightly. Generosity flows from gratefulness because gratefulness leads to a sense of abundance instead of scarcity. As a Nigerian proverb puts it, “It is the heart that does the giving: the fingers only let go.”
Scripture Encourages Generosity:
- “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8b, NIV).
- “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV).
- “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us … if it is giving, then give generously…” (Romans 12:6a, 8b, NIV).
- “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing…” (Proverbs 28:27a).
- “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).
Let’s be fair. Jesus is pretty much the ultimate example of giving your all. But, if what Jesus says and does is not a motivator for you, there are still plenty of reasons to be generous. For example, clever people throughout the ages have said it is a good idea.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020), on gender equality, women’s interests, civil rights and liberties, said it leads to a meaningful life: “If you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself. Something to repair tears in your community. Something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That’s what I think a meaningful life is—living not for oneself, but for one’s community.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., an American Christian minister and civil rights activist (1929-1968), said generously giving your time and skill can make you great: “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
When we share generously, we also receive. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, a British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, author, politician, (1948-Present) wrote: “Happiness is not made by what we own. It is what we share.”
Writer and poet Maya Angelou (1928-2014) encouraged us to be generous with what we know and have when she wrote, “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”
OK, But Why Should I Donate?
- Your religion or spiritual beliefs encourage doing good.
- You need volunteer credit for a class or club.
- It spruces up a college application or resume.
- You strive to do a good deed each day, like a Girl Scout or Boy Scout.
- It is good for the soul.
- Someone shared their time, skills and resources with you. Pay it forward.
- You will feel better about yourself. In these COVID days, many of us are depressed and stressed. Looking outside yourself helps. Making someone else’s life better makes your life better.
- It needs to be done and you have the time and skills to do it.
- You want to leave the world a better place than you found it.
There are also people and issues that matter to you and events that break your heart. You can do something about them through The Salvation Army’s programs in each of these areas:
- COVID-19 response
- Emergency disaster relief
- Child health and education
- People with disabilities
- Fair trade and women’s empowerment
- Drug and alcohol rehabilitation
- At-risk youth
- #RescueChristmas Red Kettle Campaign
You might think, “What difference does the little I give make? I am not wealthy or that gifted.” Greek fabulist and storyteller Aesop (BC 620-BC 564) wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Find out what The Salvation Army is doing in the United States and how you can support them at www.salvationarmyusa.org. Type in your zip code to find out what is happening in your community. Find out what The Salvation Army is doing in 131 countries and how you can support them at www.salvationarmy.org.
As Anne Frank (1929-1945), German-Dutch diarist of Jewish origin and victim of the Holocaust, wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world.” Be generous now!
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
- A life lesson by a volunteer firefighter by Mark Bezos
- How to buy happiness by Michael Norton
- Why Most Giving Falls Short of True Giving by J.D. Walt
- Why Sharing is Not the Answer and What Is by J.D. Walt
How to Give Money to The Salvation Army:
- www.salvationarmyusa.org for where and how you can donate within the United States. You can set up a monthly donation. Type in your zip code to find out what is happening near you. This also lets you know where and how you might donate your time.
- www.salvationarmy.org for where and how you can donate to Salvation Army programs around the world.
How to Give Your “Stuff” to The Salvation Army:
- Angel Tree volunteer: collecting gifts, organizing gifts, distributing gifts.
- Red Kettle volunteer: gather a group of friends. Offer to volunteer at a kettle for a day. If you play an instrument, or sing, or dance, or move about enthusiastically—do that. See https://youtu.be/595jOqu1oyE.
- Food pantry or a feeding program volunteer.
- Virtual after-school tutor. What are you good at? Math, English, Reading, Science?
- Kroc Center volunteer. There are 26 Kroc Centers in the United States. Find one near you at www.kroccenter.org. Check out what programs they have. See if you have any skills that might match what they offer. Contact them and ask how you can help. Since so much is happening digitally, proximity might not even matter.