“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19
When you hear the word “generosity,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? When I first started thinking about it, I thought of being generous with money. I, like many of you, ask myself often what I would do if I won the lottery. While I know I would keep some of the money for myself, I also know I would give most of it away. Church, charity, missions, my parents, my children. I know this because I want to do it now. I have the desire to pay for everything for everyone all the time. There’s just one problem…I never buy lottery tickets, so I have to be wise with the resources I do have. However, I have found being generous is so much more than how much money you have to give.
One definition of generosity (the first one, actually) listed on my dictionary app was “freedom from meanness.” To me, that means being generous is the equivalent of being kind. Opening a door for someone. Helping carry groceries. Picking up a mess you didn’t make. Doing something nice for someone who just isn’t always nice or simply offering a smile to someone you meet on the street. Kindness is simple and costs nothing to give away.
Spending time with someone is another act of generosity. A great example of taking time for someone is taking time to listen to them. I used to work in an assisted living community for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Often times, people with dementia will lash out in anger because they don’t know how to tell you what they are feeling. I did not work on the front line providing hands on care, but I would often find myself walking quickly through the building trying to get to my next appointment or get the next task marked off my list. Occasionally, I would stop when I would see a resident upset. Even if I could not understand what they were saying, nearly every time I took the time to listen to them, they would eventually calm down. It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the fact that someone took the time to listen to them, to validate their feelings.
Our world is so busy. We barely take time for ourselves, let alone anyone else. We have to be intentional. Listening requires a small amount of time, it is free to give away, and it could change the entire course of a day for another person.
Another definition of generosity is “readiness or liberality in giving.” I truly believe generosity begins in your heart. It means giving without hesitation or reservation. For many, this is probably the biggest roadblock when it comes to being generous, myself included. As humans, we want to overanalyze something till we are blue in the face. We know the right thing to do, but we can find a hundred ways to justify why we can’t or shouldn’t. I won’t give money to the homeless man on the street because he’ll just take it to buy alcohol. Maybe. So give him a meal instead. She is always so rude to everyone so why should I be nice to her? Why not? You might be the only one. I really don’t have time to sit and listen to him tell me about the same thing all over again. You will if you’ll set your phone down for a few minutes.
I get that choosing kindness and generosity isn’t always easy, but the way I see it, if you’ve done your part, what they choose to do with your act of generosity is on them.
We all have a still, small voice that speaks to us at critical moments. As a Christian, I believe it is God leading me to do the right thing, to make the right choice. When I was younger, there were many times I wondered how I was going to pay a certain bill. I would pray and ask God to make a way for me, then, just in time, someone would randomly give me money. He has sent someone to listen to me when I needed it. Someone has smiled at me when I’ve been in a crummy mood. God has never – not once – failed to provide for me at just the right time.
What if someone else is praying that same prayer and YOU are the answer?
Take some time today. Slow down and pay attention to your still, small voice. Choose kindness. Choose generosity.
And when you do, know you are storing up treasures in heaven far greater than anything you could imagine here on earth.
Candace Meiler is a 2003 graduate of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. A lifelong Oklahoma resident, she grew up in northeast Oklahoma but currently calls Shawnee home. She and her husband, Chad, have five children in their beautifully blended family. When Candace isn’t busy kayaking, writing, crafting, taking care of her family, following her kids to their sporting events, driving her land checking on their heifers (“the girls,”) and relaxing with her husband on their back patio, she spends time at her actual 8-5, Monday to Friday job. One of her favorite quotes is “My life may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me.” If you’d like to read more of Candace’s writing, you can follow her blog at www.CandaceMeiler.com.