Where Does Generosity Come From?

How often do you not give to help another person because you don’t have any “extra”? I put that in quotes because for most of us what we consider extra is subjective.

Several years ago I was with a small team from our church doing some work in the Texas valley. The little town of Progreso sits about 1 mile from the border of Texas and Mexico. A family’s house had burned down months before and stood vacant. No one had worked on the house. I imagine the emotional pain cut deep paralyzing them. They also didn’t have the money to do the work. So our team helped them tear down the burnt out house so at least they could remove the hazard.

A few weeks later I returned with another team of about 15-20 people. We enjoyed seeing all of our friends including the family we helped the month before. They insisted that our team come over for lunch one day that week. We hesitantly accepted.

The family’s home was a structure that sat about 30 feet behind the house that burned down. It’s walls were mainly made of plywood. You could tell they added on rooms as they needed them. I can remember at least six children in the family, probably more. I am sure that brothers shared a bedroom and sisters share another. Each day they walked out the front door of this small house that most of us would consider a shack to see the shell of their destroyed dream home.

Yet they wanted our team to come over for lunch. With joy in their faces they welcomed us into their front yard. We sat around a couple of picnic tables under an awning on the front of their house. They shared family stories, proudly showed us around their yard, and one young son played songs on an accordion.

One team member later shared at our nightly share time how their generosity impacted him. They obviously didn’t share with us out of their excess. It challenged our team to graciously receive their generosity. We were tempted to decline, because we didn’t want to take from their limited resources.

However what I learned is that generosity doesn’t come from our excess. This sweet family didn’t have any extra. They had just enough for each day.

I said that generosity doesn’t come from our excess. That is true when talking about material excess. A person with little to nothing can be just as stingy as a person with millions of dollars.

Generosity comes out of the excess of a cheerful giving heart.

That is what that family in the Texas valley had. That is what I want to have too. It takes a heart willing to give to others to lead a missional lifestyle.

Will you take a moment now and reflect on your heart? Are you generous because you have “extra” material resources or do you give out of a generous heart?

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

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