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Is generosity in our DNA?

By Sarah Clayton | 19 April 2013

Is generosity in our DNA?

Having heard stories of even the most unlikely people being generous, I have a suspicion that we’re all capable of it. It makes sense - since we’re all made in the image of a generous God (whether we choose to recognise it or not) – that we would all be able to exhibit some of those characteristics. (Genesis 1:26-30)

However, Romans 12:6-8 reads:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

So, it would seem that some of us possess a particular ‘gift’ in giving. We could probably all think of one of those people if we took 5 minutes now. They just seem to always be doing something for others, thinking of others, giving to others…

But if we all have some level of generosity in our blood – regardless of how much we’ve practised it – what is it that kick-starts our generosity into action?

Is it the story we hear that we can connect to on a personal level? Is it a reminder that we have so much to be grateful for… or do we feel guilty for having so much? Is it about having our heart-strings tugged, or hearing of injustices that rile us into response?

The London riots in 2011 were often blamed on a breakdown in community and disillusionment among many. However, as some responded by adding their own frustrations to the mix, another community formed out of a different response.  #riotcleanup was a community that formed on Twitter, and unlike the other groups that were promoting looting and violence through social media, they came together and organised parties for tidying up the mess; looking after shopkeepers whose livelihoods were destroyed, and supporting police.

After the recent, tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, it was a ray of hope to hear of strangers looking after one another and marathon runners dashing to hospital to donate blood for the victims of the bombings.

In both stories, communities united in inspiring acts of generosity.  On both occasions, they were formed in response to a major situation that had brought people together.

In Acts 4: 32-35 we read:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Here was a community that was brought together in response to another major circumstance.  They were unified and had one purpose.  It says that God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them!

If people of differing backgrounds, and not necessarily Christians, can be brought together to display incredible acts of generosity in response to something they care about, what are the possibilities for those who are unified in God? Those who represent not just a community, but one that has God’s grace powerfully at work in it?

What if the best way to kick-start our generosity isn't just about us as individuals, but about gathering a community with a similar purpose?

Posted by Sarah Clayton

Sarah Clayton once looked after promotions and events at Stewardship and is passionate about giving.

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