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By Father Charles Irvin

How should we be generous?

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3). This teaching of Jesus is primarily concerned with keeping us from being puffed up with pride and self-satisfaction. There is more to it, however, because generosity is likewise an extension of unconditional love, the sort of total self-giving that Jesus exemplified by dying for us on the cross.

It is the quality of giving without entailing conditions that I want to point out here. Have you known others who are generous but really are giving money in order to get something in return, who give in order to influence the recipient to do this, that, or another thing? Those who give money to politicians are not really being generous at all; they are investing in an outcome they want. Can you think of times when you have given in similar fashion, given in order to get in return an outcome in your recipient’s behavior? Is that love on your part?

But generosity isn’t just about money; it’s about other things too. What about being generous with our forgiveness? Are we generous there? God has been infinitely generous in giving us his forgiveness. The next time you are in church, spend a few moments gazing on the image of Christ nailed to a cross. Think about how generous God has been in giving you his forgiveness and then consider your own generosity in forgiving others.

Then there’s our time. Sometimes time is more precious to us than money. We need to be generous in sharing our time, particularly with our loved ones. Then, too, there are lots of kids who are starved for time and affection from their parents. Are we generous in listening to what they have to say, in hearing what’s in their hearts?

Finally, instead of being narrow, restrictive, and judgmental of others, let’s you and I be more generous in our opinions of them. Let’s be generous in every way we can and not count the cost. God didn’t!