Throughout my life I have, multiple times, been the recipient of amazing generosity. I have been on the receiving end of others giving and expecting nothing back. As Pastors receiving one salary between two we have received envelopes stuffed with money through our letterbox and smuggled in to my handbag on more than one occasion. This has always arrived at times of desperate need and has been an amazing and humbling experience.
We have also been on the receiving end of others being generous with their time, affection and support, which has been an absolute lifeline.
Unshackled generosity with our finances, time, emotions and belongings has for many years been something my husband and I quietly practise, so in order to keep it quiet I won’t elaborate any further.
Recently I was told an act of generosity from another was about to be cashed in, which was a surprise as I didn’t realise I had an outstanding debt! This ‘demand’ reminded me of an act of shackled generosity I recently read about.
It is a story about six Royal Palm trees that had been vandalized and cut down along a busy road in Miami. Due to the expense involved in replacing them the relevant county wasn’t sure how soon, if ever, they would be replaced.
Then along came a generous donation of six new trees. Not only were the trees paid for they were even planted by the donor.
The former trees had been fifteen feet tall and formed a beautiful foreground for a “Fly Delta” billboard. The new trees were thirty-five feet tall and now hid the billboard completely. The donor of the trees was Eastern Airlines.
Our culture, our society promotes thinking only about self.
Ravi Zacharias, during a conference in Ohio, reputedly shared a story about a successful businessman whose grandson asked him for some advice on what it takes to be a success. The grandfather gave him three words, “Others. Others. Others.”
I wonder how many of us really live that way. Serving others, giving to others in unshackled acts of generosity?