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  • Writer's pictureSt Bart's Church

Infinite Access - GIVE

What does GIVING make you think of, I wonder? If this were a word association game, what words would spring into your mind?

You might think about giving blood, giving help, giving cheek, giving offence, giving to charity, giving up, giving in, giving money, giving birth, giving flowers, giving evidence… the list goes on and on!

But when I sat down to write this, what was in my mind was not so much what we give, as how we give. I started to think about generosity, and what it might look like to give generously in every area of our lives.

I read a dictionary definition of generosity that said this: “a willingness to give help or support, especially more than is usual or expected.” Isn’t that great?

I wonder whether generosity is something that comes easily to you? Are you someone who naturally lends money to someone in a tight spot, lends possessions that are precious even if there’s a risk they might get damaged; gives of your time even when you haven’t got much to spare?

Or is generosity something that’s harder for you? Are you someone who would prefer to keep your money and possessions close at hand so they’re there whenever you need them; who holds back to see if anyone else will first offer help before offering it yourself?

I think probably it’s the case that generosity either comes easily to us or it doesn’t. Even in very small children there are some who, on being given a packet of their favourite sweets, will immediately pass them around the whole room, beaming, and be delighted if you agree to take one. And there are others who, in the same scenario, will try to hide the sweets away so that no one else can even see them, much less take one.

That’s not to say, of course, that we can’t learn to be generous. It’s definitely something we can practise, and learn to get better at.

A couple of incidents I witnessed years ago when I was at uni have always stuck with me. The first was when I was travelling home by train from a Christian student event. A girl on the platform suddenly realised she’d lost her purse, and so didn’t have a train ticket or any money to get home. She was by herself, but exclaimed when she realised, so a lot of people around her noticed. I’d got as far as beginning to form a plan that I could offer to lend her £20 and give her my address so she could return it, when another girl had said “here, let me buy you a new ticket.”

The girl thanked her and said that she would find a way to return it, but the generous girl said no, she didn’t need to, it was a gift. She said “God’s been really generous to me lately and I’ve realised I have so much, so I want to help.” She knew how to give with a generous heart.

The other incident was at the little church plant I went to. There was a young girl from a very difficult home background who would often hang around the church and loved to chat to the adults and get some attention. One day she told the vicar’s wife that she liked her necklace.

Instantly the woman undid the necklace, took it off, and placed it into the little girl’s hands, telling her she could keep it. The little girl ran off with her eyes wide, delighted. I have no idea if that necklace was a priceless family heirloom or if it cost £1 from a charity shop. It didn’t matter to the little girl. But what’s even more amazing is that I don’t think it mattered to my friend either. She just had a heart of generosity. She knew how to give with a generous heart. I have to say that it would never have begun to occur to me to do the same if that little girl had admired my necklace!

Both of those incidents made a real impact on me – I still remember them now, 20+ years later! They made me think that I want to default to a position of generosity in that way, even though it might not be my natural inclination.

I want to learn how to give with a generous heart.

And I don’t just mean in material things either. In some ways maybe it’s easier to be generous with £20 notes to strangers and necklaces to little girls. I also want to learn to give generously of my time, my energy, my love, my forgiveness, my patience, my friendship.

None of these things come easily, but I want to try.

I want to learn how to give with a generous heart.

Luke 6:37-38 in the Message version of the Bible says this: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

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