As people often get older, their perspective on life tends to change. The appreciation for the little things becomes more important than chasing after temporary pleasures. Indeed, the value and preservation of life itself becomes an ever-increasing priority in the lives of many. Because of this, generosity becomes more natural, especially when it comes to assisting those who need it most.
Jesus understood this, even during His time on earth. But He also knew that some merely gave out of a sense of self-gratification or selfish pride. In order to warn people against this sort of false humility, He said to His followers, “be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” In other words, when choosing to give, it must be done out of a willing heart, not out of pretence or to be recognised by others. Jesus continued, saying, “but when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
It is a common misconception that giving often results in exploitation, especially when the person we give to seems to have a compromising character. However, when Jesus was teaching His followers, He wasn’t simply telling them to give money. Jesus knew that money could not solve problems; but a generous heart could. It was this love that compelled others to follow in His footsteps.
At one time, Jesus was invited to a friend’s place for dinner. Then Mary, the sister of his friend, took about half a litre of an expensive perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet with it, while His followers looked on. The house began to fill with the fragrance from this perfume. But instead of encouraging Mary, one of Jesus’ followers, by the name of Judas, objected due to the supposed waste of money, as it was worth almost a year’s worth of savings. Yet Jesus rebuked Judas and instead commended Mary for what she had done. Because Mary was able to do what she did out of a generous heart, she was uplifted by Jesus Himself.
In order to be generous, we must cultivate a heart of humility, to give to those who cannot repay, and to understand those who are misunderstood. For God understands the situation of those who struggle and cannot look after themselves, and His followers must be able to do the same. A generous heart and a willingness to give will be blessed by God Himself.