Some people automatically groan whenever anyone mentions generosity. It tends to be a reminder of all the things we don’t have.
I have always loved the idea of being extravagantly with giving. My favorite stories are the ones of unexpected generosity: a $10,000 tip for a waitress who really needs it; a plane ticket bought for someone to visit a sick loved one; churches meeting people’s needs in a big way. I love those stories.
But no matter how much we all love stories like that, not all of us have an extra $10,000 (or even $1,000) to give.
When your bank accounts aren’t exactly overflowing, the thought of giving something away is almost painful. The first things that come to mind are the bills sitting on the kitchen counter and the scraping that it’s going to take to pay them. Or maybe your kids are about to go to college and every time someone mentions generosity you picture the tuition bill and wonder how in the world you’re going to pay it.
Several years ago, I started to think about generosity differently, and it’s changed the conversation completely.
Yes, I think we should be generous with our money, even if it’s a small amount of the small amount we have. But there are other ways to be generous, other ways we’re rich that other people might be poor.
Here are seven alternative ways to be generous:
Time is something we often overlook when we’re thinking of being generous. Maybe you find yourself in a season of your life where you’re far less busy than those around you. I bet the mother of four in your neighborhood or community group isn’t feeling rich in the time department.
How can you be generous with your time in a way that eases her burden a bit?
Being generous with your wisdom can take lots of forms. Maybe it’s leading a Bible study for people younger than you or taking a newly married couple under you and your wife’s wing to help them through the first year of marriage. Maybe it’s teaching, or preaching, or even writing a blog!
If you find yourself with wisdom, think of ways you can be generous with it.
While all of us should be generous with our affection, there are people in the world who I think have been given a triple portion of affection.
Have you ever met someone like that?
If you’re someone who has love and affection pouring out of them, make a point of finding people who need it. I can’t think of any better way to be generous than with our affection.
We often overlook our skills because when something comes easily to us, we forget it doesn’t for everybody.
Do you have experience as an electrician, or with building websites, or as a CPA? Not everyone knows what to do with exposed wires, or HTML, or complicated finances.
Think of the skills you have, and then consider how you can use them to help the people around you.
5. Opening Doors
One of the greatest ways people have loved me in my life is by opening doors of opportunity to me.
You can do this too. Look for connections between people you know and make the introduction, pass along resumes, give someone a chance that they might not otherwise get.
Your being generous by opening doors could be the break someone needed to become the people they were meant to be.
This is one of the hardest ways to be generous, but it’s so important. Think about how many times in scripture Jesus told us to forgive each other. Here’s a hint: He didn’t just say it once.
It’s incredibly difficult to forgive people in our lives who have hurt us, but our ability to forgive others directly impacts our ability to receive forgiveness from our Heavenly Father. It’s important.
Learning to be generous with your forgiveness is a challenging task, but one worth pursuing.
There’s nothing kinder you can do for someone than to help them know they’re not alone, and one of my favorite ways to do this is through storytelling.
That’s why testimonies are so important, they’re stories of God’s faithfulness to us in times when we needed Him most. When we are able to see His faithfulness in the lives of others, we’re able to believe that He’ll be faithful in our lives as well.
There are lots of ways to be generous that have nothing to do with money, and it’s important to remember that. Although our money is helpful, it’s not the only resource we’ve been given, and therefore not the only resource we can use to help others.