The Standard January 26, 2023
A good friend of mine tells her sons not to give to the Salvation Army or Goodwill only the clothes and items they don’t like or those which are worn out. Instead, she advises them to give away good things they do like. She practices this herself. What could be a more wonderful example for children?
As recorded throughout the Old Testament, God set up rules and principles for the Israelites to assure their lifestyle of generosity.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10)
After seven cycles of seven years, or every 50th year, the Hebrew people celebrated the Year of Jubilee. Debts were canceled, slaves were set free, and property was returned to the original owners. These were ways of tangibly mirroring the very mercies of God.
In Psalms and Proverbs we read a lot about generosity. ”The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” (Psalm 37:21) “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.” (Psalm 112: 4-6)
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25) “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9)
Jesus was the epitome of generosity and putting the needs of others before one’s own. He reprimanded those religious leaders who failed to understand God’s true calling. “Then the Lord [Jesus] said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” (Luke 11:39-42)
Most of us are fortunate enough to know at least one person who is so naturally generous that it brings real pleasure to be in their presence. Perhaps we could become more like them. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)