Living Generosity

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.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

I want to tell you about an experience that happened to me today. Each week I collect meals from local restaurants that are then used by the Cronulla Community Café to feed those who are struggling to make ends meet. These meals have been given by these restaurants, with no asking for any favours in return, no asking for tax receipts, they just give and they give generously. I am blown away each week that these businesses are willing and able to give to us, so that we can give to others in need.

This week while I was doing my rounds of the food pick from the restaurants, I was stopped by a chef, not from any of the restaurants that currently support us. In fact he came running up to me and asked where was the food going that I was collecting, and after I explained what we were doing, he asked how can they be get involved. I had not approached that restaurant ever to ask for their help, but each week they see me walk by with trays of food from the two restaurants around them. What was it that caused them to want to be generous? I do not really know, but I give thanks to God that they want to be generous. And I believe that this is but one of the many ways in which God works to provide for the least in our community.

I want to tell you about another experience that happened this week. I had organized with the local martial arts studio to run a free (well for the price of a tin to go in the Christmas hampers that we give away) family fun martial arts class. In all the tins collected there was a bag of silver coins. This was given by one of the boys that came along; he had donated all of his pocket money, so that others might have something special for Christmas. What causes a young child to want to be generous? I do not really know, but I give thanks to God that they want to be generous. In fact this act of generosity brought a tear to my eye, purely because they gave so generously.

These experiences have caused me to question whether I do live a generous life? Do I sow generously? Do I give with joy in my heart or do I give reluctantly?

A Giving heart

I want to share with you part of an article that really brings home the meaning of one of the gospel stories today. It’s a story of  a young Pastor who was working in the Philippines.

One morning, the pastor told us that we would be going to an elderly woman’s house to pray for her because she was destitute. Her children were all adults and had moved away, so she was left as a widow with no financial support except for the generosity of the church. It was only when we arrived at the woman’s house that I truly realized the significance of what the pastor was trying to help us understand. Her “house” was mostly made of sticks and some corrugated tin, with a roof made of leaves. When we entered her home, she would not look us in the eyes because she felt ashamed. According to Filipino hospitality, it is customary to give food and beverages to guests. The whole time we were there, she cried and gave thanks to God because we had come to see her.

Two days later, we were leading a Bible study in a banana grove close to her house. After we started, we saw her walk up, but she stayed in the back. When we were finished, she came to me – still with her head bent down – and slid something in the pages of my Bible. She, then, took my hand and placed it on her forehead, which is a custom that shows ultimate respect – grandchildren do this to their grandparents. She said, “Salamat po” which translates something like “Thank you, sir,” and walked away. I looked in the pages of my Bible to see what she had given me, and it was a two-peso coin. She had given me everything she had!

The connection between this experience and the story in Mark of the widow giving her two coins overwhelmed me. Here, the widow give everything they have. Sometimes, the most vulnerable in society, give their lives (or livelihoods) to God’s purposes. I wonder what would happen if this type of generosity defined the lives of all God’s children. Imagine the kind of world we could we live in.