Saturday, 1 April 2017

Generosity is incredibly attactive

Over the years it's been a real pleasure to meet so many generous people. Their character has spoken volumes. They may have few possessions, can be of any age or background, and come from the whole spectrum of personality. What they have in common is a warm attractive spirit that notices, cares for, and responds to those around them. They are not self-centred.

One example springs to mind. A new widow stood alone by the votive candle stand; should she be left in private rather than crowded? Was she desperate for company? Someone got up and joined her at a slight distance, not imposing but caring. The generosity was acknowledged by a kiss on the hands. It's a gift that often flows in two directions, and sometimes its language is through important little actions.

Being generous does not mean we become a doormat for others to walk all over. That doesn't do us or them any good. It is being prepared to go the extra mile, to look out for others. But it's not about being exploited.

Some international business leaders have set an example of greed over others' need. I hope Philip Green pays the full amount back into the employees' pension pot he raided to buy himself another yacht. Bill Gates on the other hand is using his vast wealth, from his Microsoft empire, to find new cures and make a positive difference to millions lives.

Thanks for donating to and running foodbanks, but it's not the best form of generosity. There's not much dignity in receiving bare necessities without being able to give something back. Generosity needs to work through local business and infrastructure so it empowers people with real worthwhile jobs and incentives.

So where are we? Generosity notices, is hugely attractive, flows in many directions, is not to be exploited but makes a difference on every scale. Jesus showed all these traits: realistic, open to inconvenient demands especially from the marginalised.

He gave his life so that we can find the vital gift of forgiveness. He rose from the dead to prove that love is stronger than death. In his new life is ours. You can't get more generous than that.