There are many ways to be generous, but it is up to us to actively participate in extending generosity to others.
Generosity is defined as the “virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly” (“What is Generosity?” University of Notre Dame, Science Of Generosity). Giving is an expression of generosity. The Bible explains the importance of generosity when Jesus Himself says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b). Maybe you have felt this truth in your own life. After all, giving to others with a willing heart makes us feel good.
Whether you actively practice generosity or not, during a worldwide pandemic, now is a wonderful time to cultivate generosity in your daily life, and while we think of generosity as tithing or writing someone a check, check out these three unexpected ways to practice generosity:
1. Give Your Time
The best way to practice generosity is to be generous with your time. Giving your time costs absolutely nothing on the side of finances. You can give your time in a variety of ways. Offering to help a new mom juggle snacks, toys, and the car seat or offering to plant flowers for an elderly neighbor are both great ways to give your time to those in need. Providing a listening ear, encouraging words, or a shoulder to cry on are also thoughtful, life-changing ways to practice generosity.
As part of being generous with your time, you should be intentional about meeting with others, listening to their concerns, and praying for them. While you are with others either at church, small group, or just a friendly meeting, ask them what they need you to pray for. After they share with you their prayer requests, make it a priority to pray for them at a certain hour each day. Write down their prayer requests on a piece of paper or a notecard to remind you to pray for this individual. Be intentional when you pray and avoid mindlessly muttering a few words for them to check the prayer off your to-do list. Do not simply recite words to recite them. Rather, pray on behalf of the person you said you would pray for. Even if nobody gives any prayer requests, make an intentional effort to pray for a loved one each day. Give your time and energy to others and it will prove to also be a great investment of your time.
Giving to others doesn’t always require finances. In fact, giving your time could be most rewarding for you and the other person.
2. Donate to a Christian Organization or Mission Fund
A second unexpected way to practice generosity is to donate to a Christian organization or a mission fund. While we normally think of donating financially to our local church, we can also donate a variety of gifts to Christian organizations and mission funds. Rather than giving money, you could donate food products, paper products, books, clothes, and other items to Christian organizations or offer to give these products to a missionary who is about to go out on the field. Maybe you have some clothes that don’t fit anymore or clothes your children have outgrown. You can easily donate these items to a local clothes closet or a missionary.
Be creative and thoughtful when you donate these items. If you are donating clothes to a Christian organization, maybe you could leave encouraging messages of God’s love for them in the pockets of coats or in the soles of shoes. In the same way, if you decide to donate food to a missionary or a missionary family, you could bake cookies and place them in Ziploc baggies with special messages written on them, such as Bible verses or quotes from famous missionaries from the past. These encouraging words and Bible verses combined with the tangible items will leave a lasting impression on the individual, reminding them they are loved. Your generosity will result in them being encouraged and strengthened.
(Side bonus: if you bake cookies for someone, you're bound to have a few leftover sweet treats for yourself too!)
A third unexpected way to practice generosity is by volunteering. This can be done anywhere you would like. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, outreach center, church, or hospital is a great way to extend generosity. While you are volunteering, you will be giving not only your time but your energy and passion to help both those in need and the organization.
When you volunteer, you will have a sense of purpose and it will provide great happiness to your soul. Hospitals right now are overflooded with sick patients and they would appreciate volunteers immensely. Even if your local hospital is not accepting volunteers, you could still extend generosity by cooking, baking, or making something for the patients and doctors at the hospital. You could drop off a pan of freshly baked cookies to the pediatric floor or you could knit hats and scarves to leave with the new moms in the maternity ward. Writing and decorating get-well cards to hospital patients are all fabulous ways to extend generosity to others.
If volunteering or helping at hospitals is not your thing, you could volunteer at a humane society. Maybe interacting with people is a bit stressful or you enjoy being with animals more than people. Either way, the humane society would love to have your generous heart to help in their mission. I have personally completed an undergrad internship with my own local humane society and it was a true honor and joy. The animals will appreciate your generosity in helping them receive proper love and care. Perhaps you will find your own forever friend at the humane society!
Generosity can come in all different forms including volunteering your time, energy, and passion.
Practicing generosity will take time, but try to choose one of these unexpected ways to pursue generosity in your own heart. Hopefully, one of these ideas will resonate with you. Maybe you have your own creative way to practice generosity. I would encourage you to practice generosity in your daily life with whatever skills and talents God has given you.
Think of other unexpected ways such as holding the door open for the person behind you, paying for the person’s coffee behind you at the coffee shop, or purchasing a self-help book for a loved one who is struggling. There are many ways to be generous, but it is up to us to actively participate in extending generosity to others.
A close friend of mine practices generosity in the kindest way: she allows friends and family members to stay at her house while they are going through a tough time. She helps, cares, and prays for them while they stay at her home. With the same kindness, love, and compassion as my friend, we should all be generous with what the Lord has given us. To my friend, God has given her a big house, and therefore, she is using what has been entrusted to her to help others. In the same way, we should use what God has entrusted to us to be generous with others.
We all want to be found to be good stewards of what the Lord has placed in our care (1 Peter 4:10). May today and every day be a day full of generosity. The Lord has already given so much to us and it is up to us to be generous with others.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Daisy
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.