A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
For a few years in a row a person in my family would give us all lottery tickets as part of our Christmas gifts. It was a chance to win thousands of dollars but we usually came away with a few dollars between us all. It was a fun activity during the middle of gift giving. If you’ve ever scratched off a lottery ticket in the United States there’s a place on the back to put your name and address so if you were to hit it big, you’d mail the ticket in to receive your winnings. The odd part about our Christmas tickets was this: the gift giver would always place their name and address on the back of the ticket. What they were saying was, “Here’s a fun gift but if you win anything it’s mine.”
Generosity is not a natural behavior for many of us. For some, we can be tightfisted and stingy. For others, generosity seems like second nature. It wasn’t until around the 18th century that our modern view of generosity became more commonplace. Before that it was thought only people with “means” could act admirably and with virtue. However, the concept of generosity in the Christian realm can be seen throughout scripture, with its culmination in the lesson of God sacrificing His only Son for our salvation. The apostle Paul regarded generosity as proof of the genuine character of Christian love.
I love one of the descriptions of generosity by the Generosity Research Center at Notre Dame University: “Generosity involves giving to others not simply anything in abundance but rather giving those things that are good for others. Generosity always intends to enhance the true wellbeing of those to whom it gives.”
Looking back at our proverb today you’ll see the word “refresh.” It aligns perfectly with this description. Refreshing or enhancing the wellbeing of another reveals itself in many ways, depending upon that person’s or group’s needs. When we truly provide for another person or recognize an opportunity to fill a need, we will be blessed by seeing the other shine. Generosity need not be an economic exchange. Even when money is involved it should primarily be an action of the heart.
Friend, generosity is something to be cultivated and practiced. It starts with answering opportunities with an open heart. It’s important to remember God didn’t go halfway. Jesus suffered a painful death for everyone. Giving us all an opportunity to live a blessed life when we believe and are obedient to Him. He doesn’t need us for Him to be whole but I can only imagine how blessed He must feel when another person accepts His gift. As Christians, modeling this generosity should be a daily priority.
Holy Father thank you for being so generous to have given your only Son to enhance our lives for all eternity. Place me in situations so that I can also express generosity to those around me. Amen