Do generous people still live?

Do generous people continue to exist? Here is what I know. Last winter I stopped to talk with a homeless family sitting in their car at McDonalds.  Their driver was standing outside the car with a young man who introduced himself and told me he bought them breakfast earlier.

I heard a server in a restaurant thank a group of men who had given money to repair her mobile home after inquiring why she was on the verge of tears.  She had taken cold showers for days because her hot water tank quit working, her roof had collapsed because it had leaked and rotted.  Inside mildew took hold. She did not know what she was going to do.  They were God’s answer to her prayers. Generous patrons, not friends, average middle class men responded.

Cancer reared its ugly head in a local teacher’s body.  Dozens gave up their Sunday afternoon to gather around her to pray.  Two summers ago, youth joined with adults to paint, rake, and build ramps so handicapped people could get in and out of their homes safely.  Volunteers work at the hospital, the Manna Center, the VFW post, in churches, and in places like the community Dogwood Festival on a regular basis.

I have seen the givers cry, accept thanks with a bit of embarrassment, or not show up at thank you banquets when the recipients share how their generosity not only tangibly helped and encouraged them, but touched their hearts and renewed their hope in a dark hour.

Every giver should know God says, “You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity” (2 Corinthians 9:11). It is true! It may or may not come financially.  It may come through an answer to a problem, wisdom, courage, stamina, friendship, healing, or protection from harm.  It will come though it may be overlooked or undervalued when it does.

For many, the largest and deepest impact of giving comes from a giving a little every week over time.  Those quality moments in time come from a quantity of moments leading up to it. Answers to prayer and the accumulation of financial resources may gather slowly before there is enough to purchase a van, make a down payment on an appliance or home, or training consummated with a new job or starting a new ministry.

John Wesley considered the failure to practice generosity a major threat to the spiritual health and effectiveness of the Wesleyan revival. He wrote in 1786:

“I fear, wherever riches have increased, (exceeding few are the exceptions,) the essence of religion, the mind that was in Christ, has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore do I not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality; and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, and anger, and love of the world in all its branches.”

The only means of avoiding the deadly spiritual consequences of riches, according to Wesley, is to emulate Christ’s generosity as He fed the 5,000, brought physical healing, admonished others with love when they did wrong, and mentored other aspiring leaders. Generosity blesses both the giver and recipient. The existence and benefit of generous givers is obvious indeed.

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