Generosity: You don’t have to be rich

Rich or poor, we all have more than enough to be generous

Luke, one of the New Testament Gospel writers, includes a fascinating little story in his account of Jesus’ life and ministry about Jesus watching people give their money to the temple treasury. The rich people give their large gifts, but then a poor widow comes along and puts in ’two very small copper coins’. Jesus adds this simple commentary on what he sees:

‘This widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’

There are many insights to be drawn from this passage, but perhaps the most significant is this: you don’t have to be rich to be generous. In fact, Jesus is telling us the poor widow who gave less in monetary terms was the most generous of all.

This lays to rest a dangerous myth it’s easy to tell ourselves: I’ll become more generous when I have more to give. I know I’ve been guilty of believing this myth, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Whether we’re talking about our time, our money, or our skills and abilities, it’s easy to convince ourselves we can’t be generous until we have more. But this simply isn’t true. The truth is that unless we learn to be generous when we have little, we won’t become generous when we have much.

As we spend some time thinking about generosity this week, it is vital we embrace this reality at the outset. We have all we need to be generous with. We may not have as much, for example, in monetary terms as others to give, but generosity is not about the amount we give but the desire to give regardless of what we have — and the heart with which we give it.

Further, as should already be becoming apparent, generosity is not limited to what we give financially. Generosity is about giving of every dimension of ourselves for the benefit of others. Our whole lives can and should be our gift to the world. And no matter who we are or what our circumstances, we all have something we can give.

Have you embraced the myth that you don’t have enough to be generous? What could you do this week to counteract that myth?

Originally published at

Generosity: Lessons from Ghana

Sabbath: Savouring life