When you look around the globe and try to wrap your brain around the disturbing poverty that blankets so many people, it’s tempting to ask, whatever happened to generosity? Though both involve the giving of money, charity has humanitarian roots, while generosity has spiritual roots.
Like the recent earthquake in Japan, it’s now over one year since a deadly earthquake stroke Haiti, killing people and causing massive destructions on property. According to the most recent numbers available, almost $1 billion has been given to help with the relief efforts in this country – noted for untold misery and poverty. Celebrities have joined in the cause believed to be one of the most comprehensive fundraising efforts in recent times, and the results have been impressive! The Red Cross has raised millions of dollars, almost $80 million. They raised $4 million alone just by having people text 90999 on their cell phones, which would add $10 to their cell phone bill, which means that up to 400,000 people did that. Celebrities have lined up to contribute. Jennifer Aniston gave $500,000, Lance Armstrong $250,000. Brad Pitt $1 million, Madona $250,000. Even president Barack Obama, wrote a check for $15,000. The list of contributors goes on and on and on.
Now, some would look at that and call that a striking display of generosity. And they would be wrong. There is an important difference between generosity and charity. Both involve the giving of money, yes! But while charity starts with the checkbook, generosity starts with the heart. While charity has humanitarian roots, generosity has spiritual roots. Thus while the giving of money, even vast sums of it, may make you charitable, it doesn’t necessarily make you generous. Albert Camus once said, “Too many people have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity”
Willmer in his excellent book A Revolution in Generosity defines generosity like this: “Generosity is the natural outcome of God’s transforming work in individuals when they are conformed to the image of Christ and become generous as Christ is generous”.
God wants His children to be generous. He wants all of His children to be generous. Therefore, generosity is not a function of the wallet. It’s not a product of a hefty bank account. It’s not something that can only be practiced by the rich. No, God wants all of His children to be generous, because He Himself is generous, and He wants us to take on a family resemblance.
“I think we all know that we struggle with generosity. As believers, and Evangelicals, we give, and as Evangelicals, we give probably more than any other group on the face of this earth. But giving, like charity, is not the same as generosity. Generosity goes much deeper. Generosity goes to the heart” - Dr Paul Nyquist.