Why generosity matters

Friends walked into the drop-in at One88 with 2 frozen pizzas that they had received from someone. They asked if we had an oven to heat them up. We obliged and got the pizzas ready to go. I brought them out, gave them to the couple, and they said, “Let’s cut these up and pass these around. This is for everyone. Why not share something we’ve been given?”

Generosity is an attractive virtue. “What drives people to be generous?” is the topic of many books, seminars, & workshops. For not-for-profit organizations like us, we are always exploring that question.

We are often asked what we think about giving to people who ask for money at street lights or pan-handle on the street. The concern behind the question is ‘what is that person going to do with the money I give?” and I get that. However, one of the things I notice being downtown is that for many people, when they are shown generosity, they respond generously in return. Generosity seems to beget generosity. Frozen pizza is a simple example but this pattern lives itself out in many instances, some of them not even that edifying but still acts of generosity.

We can argue that some people on the street give things away so freely because they have not really done anything to earn it and/or they have learned that they will receive more. I’m sure that for some, that is the case. But there are many who are deliberate about being generous with what they have because they recognize someone has been generous towards them.

It seems to me that is pretty good motivation for being generous. In the midst of COVID-19, the drop-in is perhaps the most peaceful it has ever been. Our friends come in with a sense of gratitude that we are still present, recognizing that people are giving to us so we can help meet needs. Being generous changes things. Because the reality is that we all have had people in our lives who have shown us generosity. Do you recognize it in your life?

And ultimately, Creator God, in his great mercy, has been generous to all of us, generous in love, grace, forgiveness, mercy. Generous in a creation that continues to bloom & grow, producing what we need to live. Everyday we live in the reality of God’s generosity as we see it in Jesus Christ. It changes our lives and as we live it out in our own lives, it changes others.

— Dave