A story about generosity

Generosity-1In 1892, the concert pianist, Paderewski, played a concert at Stanford University at the invitation of one Herbert Hoover, a poor student, who along with a friend, sponsored the concert to earn funds for his education. When the concert ended, the students discovered that they were $400 short of his $2000 fee. They promised Paderewski the balance, explaining that their predicament. The generous man returned the $1600 they had, told them to take their expenses from it, and then to give him whatever was left over!

Paderewski went on to become the Prime Minister of Poland. When World War 1 broke out, that country was devastated and people were starving. He reached out the United States to the office of Food and Relief. The head of that office was one Herbert Hoover, who promptly set about to send tons of grain to help feed the Polish people. When Paderewski offered profuse thanks to Hoover, the young man, a future President of the US, reminded him of his generosity in 1892, which the pianist Prime Minister had completely forgotten!  Such is the nature of generosity!  We reap what we sow.

My heart jumps for joy when I interact with a person who has a generous spirit. They are positive towards others, speaking encouragement, hope for the best, and give of their resources and themselves. They make the world a richer place.  Jesus told a story about a man who failed the generosity test at the point where it is most important. “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21, NIV)

Are you ‘rich toward God’? Is your worship lavish? Do you serve to meet minimal expectations or in a way that reflects passion for Jesus and His Kingdom?

Jesus spoke to some religious professionals who were not ‘rich toward God.’  They carefully calculated the tithe (10%) on even the herbs from their garden, but did not practice justice towards others.  Jesus’ words with regard to them are scathing: “How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.” (Matthew 23:23, NLT)

Love does not calculate returns. It overflows! If we are carefully keeping record of what we think God owes us, if we are clinging to our time, our money; yes, to our Self – we are not ‘rich toward God.’ Jesus said that the man who took such good care of himself was a ‘fool!’ Strong word, isn’t it?  He failed to understand that eternity waited and those things he had carefully laid aside for his own comfort would be spent by another. In 1956, a bright young father whose life was full of promise died on a beach in the Amazon, during an attempt to reach a remote tribal people with the Gospel of Christ. Jim and four friends had generously invested their lives in missionary work which was hard, which provided few earthly rewards, and ultimately they died in the cause.  Elliott was living his motto – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Generosity is inspired by love and kept alive by a sense of the rich resources we find only in the limitless storehouse of our Lord. Are you a selfish fool or a rich wise man?

Take these words from the Word to heart. “Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:28-33, The Message)

____________

Be Thou my vision

O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me

Save that Thou art

Thou my best thought

By day or by night

Waking or sleeping

Thy presence my light

 

Be Thou my wisdom

Be Thou my true Word

I ever with Thee

And Thou with me Lord

Thou my great Father

I Thy true son

Thou in me dwelling

And I with Thee one

 

Riches I heed not

Nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance

Now and always

Thou and Thou only

Be first in my heart

High King of heaven

My treasure Thou art

 

High King of heaven

When vict’ry is won

May I reach heaven’s joys

O bright heaven’s Sun

Heart of my own heart

Whatever befall

Still be my vision

O Ruler of all

 

Eleanor Henrietta Hull | Mary Elizabeth Byrne

© Words: Public Domain

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