17 December 2014

‘Tis the Season to be generous

Posted in Family life

With Christmas coming, the topic of ‘generosity’ will be hovering around the edges of our collective consciousness. On one hand, we’ll be looking forward to all the new, shiny things coming our way, but also trying to not get too carried away with it all. We’ll stumble towards Christmas Day, with our hearts and minds considering what we’re actually celebrating, and what values come with the season.

Generosity is a virtue closely associated with Christmas. In moments of serious yuletide reflection, we are reminded of Jesus – ‘God with us’ – who makes a way to a better life at great expense to himself. These reflections encourage some to follow in his footsteps, considering how their lives might offer up a ‘better way’ for others.

Of course, generosity is not restricted to Christmas time nor to Christian reflections. It is a universal virtue that runs across time, culture and religion; a value that all kinds of people aspire to.

As it turns out, generosity is also good for people. It promotes happiness, self worth and contentment for those who give, as well as making a difference for those who receive. A good deal all around…

I was thinking about the times I am most generous. Circumstantial things encourage me to give or withhold my time, energy and resources, but I’ve worked out that I am most generous when I ‘get’ certain deeper truths about my life. I am most generous when I ‘get’ that life is a gift and I’m not owed anything; when I ‘get’ that life is ultimately good or will at least turn out alright in the end; and when I ‘get’ that life is a group effort and others ‘have my back’. When I ‘get’ these things, I feel secure and content, not needing to hold onto my stuff so tightly. This is the rich soil from which my generosity sprouts.

The Christmas season provides us with an opportunity to dig around in this soil, discover these truths and enjoy the benefits of a generous life. The challenge is to enjoy the new, shiny top layer on the way through without getting too stuck there.

Steve Forward

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