Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Generosity Beyond the Obvious

What’s the smallest, most trivial thing you could do to shine light into someone else’s life?

So many times we focus on the big things, the obvious things. When helping others is mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is writing a check and sending it in the mail or dropping a few dollars into a collection plate. What I’m coming to realize is that generosity is bigger than the collection plate; it’s bigger than the obvious things. Generosity has to do with your heart much, much more than it does with your actions.

“When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.” (Matthew 6:3-4, The Message)


It’s really the small things that count. If the only good you ever did were the things you had to think about, would you really be generous? Could you consider yourself a generous person if you only helped and served when you thought about it or were called out to do so? We sometimes focus so much on the big things; the things that we think can change the world, to the detriment of generosity. We can either get caught in the mindset that nothing we do is of any importance unless it is obvious or we can become cynical. We can get tired of trying to make such huge changes and failing that we give up on the whole thing altogether.

Maybe we ask, too often, how can I change the world? How can I leave a legacy? Maybe a better question is what is the smallest thing I can do? What can I do to shine light into someone else’s life and make their day easier? Maybe in time, if we ask this question of ourselves, the small things won’t seem so small and the big things won’t seem so far away. Maybe in time we might even be able to call ourselves generous. I want to live a life of generosity beyond the obvious.

5 comments:

Ashley said...

Wow, this post really speaks to a person like me, a person constantly trying to save the world. And I can never figure out why so many times I fail at doing so. I need to look at the smaller picture, not focus so much on the huge picture that seems to be unbearable. I might not hurt if I start asking what is the smallest thing I can do every once and a while. Great post!

Dolores said...

Just a thought...what would we look like if we were too busy helping our brothers and sisters and referring to scripture for Christ's guidance to even worry about our differences? I recently attended the funeral of the wife of a pastor in our town. It was painfully sad but I had never seen such a gathering of different denominations and even non-believers. It was a beautiful sight. There were several rows of pastors from all over. This pastor is a pentacostal. The speakers included a traditional Lutheran, a baptist missionary, and an epicopalian priest, all who were his prayer partners. (Says a lot about him as a man of God.) The service was in a Calvary Chapel church offered up because the pastor's own church was too small. A feast of food was provided by the Calvary Chapel congregation and teachers from a local school where the woman who died had worked. No one seemed to care about any specific theology because we were too busy caring for one another. I looked around and saw people from every church: Catholics & Protestants alike. I felt as though I had seen a glimpse of the Kingdom. I will carry this with me always. Each person was there to shine a tiny light. The result was a spectacular glow. Not that I believe that we should ever stop analyzing the precious word of God, but what would we look like if this was our focus and we stopped arguing?

Ashley said...

Dolores, that is what I see as the Kingdom of God living out it's fullest! BEAUTIFUL!!!

WES ELLIS said...

Dolores,
(mom)
Very good point. It seems logical that a life of generosity would lead to a life of loving acceptance of those who dissagree with you. As Christians we spend so much time pointing out our differences and lately I'm learning to find all that we have in common.

Let me share an illustration that Mike Devries shared with me last night.

He said that when he was young he felt like an apple among a whole box of apples. He thought that the Church was all sorts of different apples. One day he peaked over the edge of his apple box (or fell out) and saw that there was a whole table of fruit out there. He discovered that the Church was so much bigger than the other apples had told him it was. He began to change into something else; an orange or a cumquat even. When he tried to go back to the apples they pointed out that he was an orage and he said "yes but we're all fruit." As he tried and tried to point out that they were all fruit they continued to say "but your not an apple." The apples wouldn't accept him.

What breaks my heart about the Church is that there are so many apples who think they're alone and cannot accept the oranges. What if we could all see that we are all fruit? What if we loved the unlovable; the people who just think differently than we do? What is Church was a group of people who saw the fruitness in eachother instead of pointing out all the different kinds?

Church should be all about seeing all that we have in common instead of all that separates us.

Thanks mom, for bringing up that point. I believe it's essential to Christian community.

Stephanie said...

Love it!!! Can't express my self any more than that!! Wow!!! truly amazing... :)