Recently, our pastor preached about “Extravagant Generosity.” When I read the sermon title, my first reaction was that it must be time to pledge our tithes for next year. However, despite my cynicism, the title did cause me to think about why I give. I was raised by parents who taught me to give 10% to the church, charities, and missions. Every Sunday, I carefully placed my dime in the offering plate to reflect this training. But really, why do I give other than that is how I was raised; and it is just habit to give?
I give because as an educator, I am awed by the amazing generosity of many of our young people. Jack draws “anything” you request for donations to raise funds for the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh. Rachel Beckwith gave up birthday celebrations and asked for “no party, no big presents” to help provide clean drinking water for people in Africa. Charlie Simpson cycled for 5 miles around a park to raise relief funds for Haiti. Max Siepert, who heard a discussion about 9/11 in his social studies class, gave all his summer savings—$ 10.03—to his local police department to make a difference. He remarked that it would be “awesome if everyone gave”. I feel compelled to follow the examples of these and many other young people in the world.
I give because I have more, and others have less. God has blessed me more than I have ever imagined. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). In Acts 20:35 Jesus taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive. This has proven true because whatever I have given has always returned to me as a blessing multiplied many times.
I give because when I was 12 years old our home was completely destroyed by a devastating fire. We rushed from the blazing house in the middle of the night dressed in our pajamas. It was a blessing that no one was hurt, but we were literally homeless with no food, clothing or shelter. In the spirit of “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me” (Matthew 25:35), people that we did not know responded with abundant and cheerful generosity providing food, clothing, and a home.
I give because as a teacher I taught students, who were hungry because they had no food at home; who were cold because they did not have coats to wear; who were sick because they did not have the proper medicine to take; who could not attend classes because they did not have money for tuition. John the Baptist answered, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:11).
After considering why I give, I decided that I give for a variety of reasons. But I cannot truly say that I give in the way that the pastor suggested. I feel compelled to rise to the challenge to practice “extravagant generosity”—to give more freely to make a positive difference by extraordinary sharing. If I strive to excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in my love for Christ, I must also strive to excel in this grace of giving (II Corinthians 8:7). I am led to be extravagantly generous with my time, my gifts, and my resources.
For information on how you can help further the mission of SWU through financial gifts, visit our Giving Page.