How do I give, if I don’t have anything to give? What does it mean to give from abundance when I can scarcely get by? How do you know God loves a cheerful giver?
Did you know young people today find that while generosity is important what is more important is their growing concern over personal debt. Of course, we read all about student loans that have a stranglehold on this generation. But there is more. There is ballooning credit card debt, and falling behind on car payments, or monthly rent. Money is a huge problem that hangs over their heads and the idea of donating money seems almost ludicrous.
Yet, writing this generation off, or giving-up on them until they are financially solvent, misses the “spirit” that is at work in a large segment of today’s youth. In a Barna poll of young Christians, 9 out of 10, or 94 percent of the GenX generation said, “I want to use my unique talents and gifts to honor God.” This is more than an exciting statistic. It is a movement taking place within a new generation. They want to make a contribution. And they are filled with compassion. It is with this heart of compassion they look for ways to honor God.
Sure, money counts but there are other ways of being generous. It is not about scarcity. It is about serving—with compassion. And where there is compassion generosity follows. Think Jesus and the boy with a few fish and some barley loaves. Five thousand were fed beginning with Jesus who had compassion for the crowd. And the boy honored Jesus by giving what he had.
Most of us know the story of the Good Samaritan and how he had compassion for the beaten man. Only a few coins were actually exchanged, but it was an act of compassion for his neighbor that turned a little giving into more than enough. The prodigal son is yet another illustration as the father runs with arms flung open towards the wayward son. We may recall the fatted calf and the feast for the young man but don’t forget the father’s compassion.
Compassion demonstrates a deep love for people, and we find tenderness, kindness, and ultimately generosity closely interrelated with compassion. It need not surprise us when we look at the word compassion and we find the word “compass” imbedded within it. A compass helps us follow our compassion as we allow our hearts to direct and guide us. Compassion is not necessarily our “North Star” but rather it gives meaning, purpose and significance as it points us in the direction of honoring God. God is compassionate.
Come back to the Letter of James, “You have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate.” (James 5:11) Compassion and generosity walk hand in hand. It is how we honor God. And it is how God honors us. For God so loved the world, that He gave …