What is generosity? The dictionary definition for that word is “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected.” It’s that last part of the definition that gets at the heart of the word – “giving more than is strictly necessary or expected.” So, that indicates that there is a sense that some giving is expected. I suppose that is the kind of giving that is done with a notion of something being given in return. That something might be a pat on the back, or the relief of guilt, or perhaps just particular goods or services. That may be giving, but according to the definition, it’s not generosity.
I think we can all agree that we would like to have it said of us that we are generous people. To be called a “Scrooge” is not a compliment. But if we are honest about the human heart, we know that we do not come by generosity naturally. So, from where do generous hearts come?
I would say that a generous heart is itself a gift from the only one who is naturally generous. There is only one who is, at heart, generous, and that is God himself. When God gives, he does not give only what’s expected. Remember, in our sin we are the enemies of God and have turned on him, and yet he gives to us generously, even his only begotten Son. He gives with no expectation of anything in return. He gives not because he is coerced or even compelled to do so, but because it is in his nature to always show mercy – generously.
So, what happens when we encounter the infinitely generous heart of God? Well, in that moment, we receive a gift. He gives us his heart, and from that point his generous heart becomes our generous heart. Over and over again in the Scriptures we see people like the Shunammite woman, or Zacchaeus, or Lydia, who receive the gift of a generous heart by encountering the generous heart of God.
As those who are daily encountering the generous heart of God who gave infinitely more than what was expected, we at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, are Being the Heart of God for the Heart of Charleston. So, let us give not simply what’s expected or because we’ll get something in return, but generously as those who have already received the greatest gift of all, the Heart of God.
Your Brother in Christ Jesus,
[Dean and Rector]