I have always thought that generosity was about “how much.” I always believed the level of generosity was measured by an amount. But recently I was taught that generosity is not an amount; it is an attitude. You see, God doesn’t care about what you give. He cares about how you give and why you give. I think that might be what Paul was writing to the church in Corinth when he wrote, “If you’re really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12).
A couple of months ago I was taught this lesson by an amazing young lady. Jill and I had finished our long run on Sunday evening and, as is our tradition, we rewarded ourselves by trying out a new place to eat. Well, you know me, I will talk to just about anyone and so I began a conversation with our server. Jill and I found out she was planning to run the half-marathon we were “training” for. The place was pretty empty that evening, so we had the opportunity to visit with her more.
Not only did we learn she lives just a couple of blocks from us, we learned, even though she also works at another restaurant, waiting tables is not her “real” job. Her profession, her calling, is as an elementary school teacher at a Title 1 school in Houston. I asked her why she was working the two other jobs.
Jill and I have always thought of ourselves as generous people. We love doing things for others. With joy, we financially support the ministries of our church and we raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. But when Asten told us why she works these other two jobs, I saw generosity not being preached about, but I saw generosity being lived in her day-to-day life. This 20-something-year-old young lady works two extra jobs not so she can live in a nice apartment or drive a nicer car or take incredible vacations. Asten teaches all day and then in her evenings and on weekends, she waits tables so she can provide opportunities for the kids in her class at the Houston elementary school. All Jill and I could say was “WOW!”
Generosity is not about an amount, it is about an attitude. I learned that lesson sitting outside one chilly evening from a 20-something-year-old young lady who has an attitude not just of generosity, but of extravagant generosity.
That is what it means to be a radical follower of Jesus . . .
. . . oh yeah, not only is Asten an example of generosity, she ran the half-marathon in 1 hour and 53 minutes.