Well, you may do it. But the majority of Americans don’t.
What am I talking about? Simon Sinek explains …
“I was walking down the street with a friend of mine when the backpack of a man walking in front of us opened up, spilling papers onto the sidewalk. Without a thought, we bent down and helped him gather up his papers, and I pointed out to him that his bag was open. That tiny favor, that little expense of time and energy, with no expectation of anything in return, gave me a small shot of oxytocin. It feels good to help people. The man we helped also got a small shot of oxytocin, because it feels good when someone does something nice for us too. We stood up and continued walking.
When my friend and I reached the end of the block, we stood and waited for the light to change so we could cross the street. As we stood there, another man standing in front of us turned around and said, ‘I saw what you did back there. That was really cool.’ And that’s the best thing about oxytocin. Not only does the person performing even the tiniest act of courtesy get a shot of oxytocin, not only does the person on the receiving end of an act also get a shot, but someone who witnesses the act of generosity also gets some chemical feel-good. Simply seeing or hearing about acts of human generosity actually inspires us to want to do the same.” 1
Turns out generosity has all kinds of benefits not only for those who practice it, but also for those who experience it, see it or even hear about it.
So why aren’t we more generous?
In their eye-opening book, The Paradox of Generosity, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson said, “In short, a quite small group of Americans gives away the vast majority of the money that is donated in voluntary financial giving in the US. Stated differently, while some Americans seem to be quite generous with their financial resources, the vast majority contribute very, very little to the overall giving that takes place in the US. If the top 10 percent of most generous Americans were to stop giving money, the entire sector of society and the economy based on voluntary financial giving would simply collapse. In other words, there is a huge amount of room for growth in the financial generosity for many Americans.” 2
If being generous makes us happier and healthier, why in the world aren’t more people generous?
According to Andy Stanley, “By nature, the concept of generosity is in direct conflict with the concept of self-preservation.” Too many believe the only way to acquire wealth is to keep it and protect it, even though the Bible says the opposite. Proverbs 11:24 says, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”
T. Harv Eker said, “The mark of true wealth is determined by how much one can give away.”
Generosity blesses and benefits the giver, the receiver and everyone else who witnesses it. That ought to be enough evidence for all of us to go all in being generous with our time, talent and treasure. But there’s more.
GOD CALLS US TO BE GENEROUS.
In Exodus 23:15, God instructed His people to honor Him by being generous because He’d delivered them out of bondage in Egypt and said, “No one shall appear before me empty-handed.” In verse 19, He said, “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.”
J.D. Greear said, “God calls us to be generous, not because He has needs, but because he wants us to become generous, as He is. Generosity is not something God wants from us, you see, as much as something He wants for us. He wants us to be consumed with His glory and filled with compassion, just like He is, moving instinctively to a world of need around us.”
Generosity is good for all of us and the good it accomplishes both now and for eternity is incalculable. We are never more like God than when we give and never more unlike Him than when we don’t.
The most famous verse in the Bible says, “For God so loved the world He gave …” (John 3:16). We should follow His example and be generous givers. We don’t need to pray about it or check our bank account. We just need to do it.
We are never more like God than when we give and never more unlike Him than when we don’t.
And don’t be surprised when people learn about your generosity, if they say ...
“I’d like to talk to you about that thing you do.”
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
1 Sinek, Simon. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't. Penguin Business, 2019. Pg. 62
2 Smith, Christian, and Hilary Davidson. The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose. S.n. Oxford University Press. 2014. Pg. 205
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.