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Growing a More Generous Heart in 2018
As you look over the financial reports in our annual January issue, you’ll notice incredible generosity toward our community and the world through local and domestic mission events in 2017.
Yes, we are called as the church to be involved and present in our community, however far too often, ideas of giving are to provide material resources. “The manner of giving shows the character of the giver, more than the gift itself,” observed Johann Kasper Lavater, a Swiss theologian. So when reaching out to someone consider these seven non-material ways of giving:
Give protection. Be someone’s bridge over troubled waters. When people face great personal challenges and feel as though they may drown in them, it is a good friend who appears and becomes their bridge to safety. Just consider the endless opportunities that come your way, often daily, to be just that kind of friend to another person. Give the gift of protection, a shelter during a time of emotional storm.
Give knowledge. If you have a special skill or body of knowledge, give some away to people who might never have access to it. If you’re a physician, treat someone without a fee. If you’re an accountant, help someone with a financial matter. If you’re an attorney, provide some legal assistance to a person who may not be able to afford it. Remember the words of the apostle Paul, “We have different gifts” (Romans 12:6) and his urging to use those gifts for the benefits of others.
Give insight. When a person is troubled and shares the difficulty with you, gently share whatever insight comes to you. Your objective wisdom may provide just the opening that person needs to step into a different direction.
Give kindness. There’s just not enough kindness on our planet. That may be why British author Samuel Johnson said, “To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life. ”Kindness is a highly prized virtue in Judaism. In fact, ancient rabbinical teaching held that kindness was superior to charity for these reasons:
- Charity is done only with money, but kindness can be performed by actions such as driving a sick person to a medial appointment.
- Charity is given to the poor and those in hard financial circumstances, but kindness can be extended to both the poor and the wealthy.
- Charity is given only to the living, but kindness can be offered for the living and the deceased by making funeral arrangements and comforting the grieving.
- Charity is usually given when there is a need, but kindness can be offered at any time.
Give encouragement. Be someone’s cheerleader in life. Applaud his or her efforts. Acknowledge their talents. Affirm their successes. Your words of encouragement can make the difference between despair and hope.
Give comfort. The next time you come across someone hurting from life’s blows, grieving a loss or frightened about the future, give the gift of comfort. Also consider extending this gift to creatures as well as people you encounter.
Give smiles. This so easy to do and yet is often left undone. Smile at your partner. Smile at your colleagues. Smile at children. Smile at friends. Smile at strangers. When you give, be guided by the wisdom from the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca: “We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation, for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”
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