A Habit of Generosity

Photo by Matt Collamer

I stopped at Target today to get an order pickup. As I was walking in, I saw a younger man probably in his 20s sitting further away from the door with a small sign that said “Homeless. Please help.” Sometimes I see these signs and do nothing. Other times, I try to stop and ask them if they’re hungry and if they need anything. One time I asked someone with a sign if they wanted a coffee at Starbucks since I was stopping by anyways. That person said,” No, thank you.” He obviously doesn’t like coffee as much as I do. 

Anyways, this guy seemed really nice and soft spoken. He said that he had come on hard times and had lost his job after being sick with covid last year and then his car had broken down so he lost his mode of transportation to get to work. When I asked him if he needed anything, he said that he needed some antibacterial spray from wearing boots and socks all the time. I asked him if he was hungry and he said yes. We found a box of protein bars and a pizza Lunchables that he smiled and said reminded him of lunch at school as a kid. We all know that the pizza Lunchables are the best!!!

In these situations, we never know what is really going on with the person and their life. Maybe people just want free stuff or maybe they’re sincerely going through a terrible time and they just can’t pull things together to afford a place to stay and food for themselves. Sometimes I wonder if they’re taking advantage of me. Even if they are, I still had the opportunity to help out another human being. If someone is asking for help, I can choose to help them without making sure their reason for asking for help is “good enough or “worthy” of receiving help. 

The more I think about it, the more I am reminded of the forgiveness that Jesus freely gives to me without strings attached. Jesus doesn’t ask us why we need forgiveness as a pre-requisite before giving us forgiveness. He gives to us freely and without reservation. This doesn’t mean that we have to give to every single person, but I have been feeling a pull on my heart to take small steps to try to help as I can. 

It’s interesting in the Bible that you don’t see Jesus trying to heal every single person that he passes on the street. He heals people when they come to him and ask him to heal them. He rewards the act of faith it requires to ask for help. He also doesn’t try to make friends with every single person who he comes into contact with. He pours most of his time and teaching into 12 people, his 12 disciples, and then asks them to go out and to continue his work after his return to heaven. 

I can feel very overwhelmed with the need all around me. The world as a whole has so much need and it can feel pointless to try to help when I am only one person. It feels like there isn’t that much that I can do to help, but I’m trying to push past that mindset and to simply try to help people as I can. I don’t have an unlimited amount of money to help all the people or unlimited time to do all of the things to help all of the people, clearly;) 

What I can do, is to continue to try to be open and willing to help people as I can with the  time, resources, and abilities that I have been given. Maybe what someone needs most is for someone to look them in the eye and ask them how they’re doing. Maybe they need someone to talk to. Maybe they need a smile as a reminder that there is still goodness in the world. Maybe they just need to be treated kindly to remind them of their humanity and that they are important, valuable, and loved by God. 

God has created all people. We are worthy because of the worth and forgiveness that he freely gives to us. He is so good and he loves us so much. The love of Jesus compels me to try to love and help others. It’s not about donating the most amount of money or spending the most time volunteering. For me, I am trying to create a habit and lifestyle of generosity by seeing the need around me and doing what I can to be part of the solution with what I have to give. A lifestyle means that it is an ongoing pursuit and a work in progress. You can keep practicing and improving in these skills over time. For me, this is certainly a habit in progress.

What small step can you take to see the needs of others around you and try to do something about it? Respond below.

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