What is Generosity?
The Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines generosity as: the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish; the quality of being generous; especially: willingness to give money and other valuable things to others.
So how do we as Christians, and as a church, Community of Christ, define Generosity?
First, we must understand that God gives and loves graciously and generously. We need to believe that all we are and all we have are gifts from God. And as disciples and followers of Jesus, our stewardship, our whole-life commitment is in response to God’s generosity to us. Being generous is about choosing to align our priorities with God’s priorities, and then be willing to align our hearts with God’s heart.
In simple terms, we are called to respond with thankfulness and share with others as generously as God has shared with us. We use these six spiritual practices of A Disciple’s Generous Response to help us in managing and sharing our resources:
God gifts each person with boundless grace and unending love. Our response to that love and grace is to serve others and let generosity become part of our nature.
God’s unconditional love for each of us is expressed through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. When we faithfully respond to that ministry we become accountable to one another, God, and ourselves.
Manage Your Money
Managing the money we have, no matter the amount, expresses our desire to love and help God, neighbors, ourselves, and the world. When we focus our giving on God’s purposes, our hearts become more aligned with God’s heart.
Tithing is a gift of thanksgiving to God in response to God’s generous gifts to us. When we share our tithes, the church can spread joy, hope, love, and peace around the world so others can experience God’s generosity, too.
Saving is a way to prepare for the future. It gives us the chance to extend our love and create a better tomorrow for our families, friends, the church’s mission, and the world.
Responsibly spending is a commitment to live a healthy, happy life together with God and others. The teachings of Jesus challenge us to make lifestyle choices that are often countercultural.
When we consider the ways that each principle applies to our lives, we can respond faithfully and begin to discover our true capacity for giving. The promise in Doctrine and Covenants 163:9 is clear: “Eternal joy and peace await those who grow in grace and generosity that flows from compassionate hearts without thought of return.”
But all of these principles don’t have much effect on our generosity if they aren’t put into practice. We have to choose to be generous. As I mentioned in the last post, generosity is really a product of our stewardship, and how we manage our lives is a direct result from the choices we make. If we make an effort to apply these principles in our daily lives, they will become easier and easier the more we practice them. As a result, we will also begin to notice that becoming more generous in the things that we do, becomes easier also. We will begin to develop new qualities: “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish.”
I read recently that one of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” items pictured a plain bar of iron that was worth about $5.00. If that same bar of iron were to be made into horse shoes it would be worth $50.00. If it were made into needles it would be worth $5000.00. If it were made into balance springs for fine Swiss watches, it would be worth $500,000.00. The point here is that, the raw material is not as important as how it is developed and used. God has given each of us many different gifts, including the ability to be generous. But the worth of that gift will be dependent on how we choose to develop and use it.
“There are many lives waiting to hear the redeeming words of the gospel, or to be lifted from hopelessness by the hands of loving servants. But they will be lost to you without the generous response of disciples who share from their own bounty that others may know the joys of the kingdom.” —Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a