Lori Lynch

The Meaning of Generosity

Read-Luke 21:1-4

We tend to imagine that generosity can only occur habitually in our lives- after- we have attained a certain degree of security for ourselves. I think that there is a lot of truth in that belief. An older, retired friend tells me that she feels more able to be generous now, since her family and work commitments are behind her.   No doubt, she must have fewer worries over how to come up with enough money to feed, clothe, house and educate her kids. Thankfully, they are out on their own and doing just fine. She and her husband worked hard at their jobs and planned well for their retirement, yet who can say for sure how well the financial plans will actually pan out?

Now that she has more free time, she finds herself doing more to serve her community through specific programs that her local church family presents, or takes part in, with their neighbors. One day each month she helps out at the food pantry. Most weeks she attends Bible study and then later in the same day takes part helping with the reading and math project at the elementary school. 

In these settings, just as she used to find at her place of employment, some folks are easier for her to get along with than others. But now something is different in her attitude toward the people who are so different from her. Before, she didn’t feel like she had enough time or patience to deal with the mission and ministries of the church when she was working so hard already to help provide for her family. She literally believed that she could not afford it, not financially or spiritually. But now that she is older, she looks back and sees the hand of God at work in her own life, even when God’s purposes were far from central in her own heart and mind. She sometimes thinks back to situations where she would freak out over having to deal with personality types that seemed so hard for her to relate to, and in retrospect admits that she was less concerned with trying to understand others and primarily concerned with being understood. It used to be more difficult for her to be generous in her attitudes about the shortcoming in others until it finally dawned on her that God is very generous to be willing to forgive her shortcomings.  Now she has a sense of security in this new relationship with God that she has never known through any other type of involvement or interest. Realizing that God has provided everything she ever really needed has freed her heart and mind to trust that not only is God generous with our material needs, God is generous with allowing people to be who we are and to love us all with impartiality and grace, just as we are, right where He finds us- as He invites us to now come closer. 

I think that that when Jesus asked His disciples then to consider the faith of the poor widow who gave all that she had in trust to her God, He intended that we too-even now-might come to understand that God knows the specific needs we all have and that He will send the people and the resources that we need at just the right time, when we actually need them. Our part is to trust that God will not expect us to give what we do not yet posses, but nevertheless He will call us to make a determination of where our trust begins and ends. Then we can get down to the business of how best to put our gifts and talents to work for the good of His kingdom which is coming, and how good it can be to learn how to reach out instead of freak out.


“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”- Edward Everett Hale