Wednesday, July 09, 2008


How does one measure generosity? By the amount someone gives and donates? By the number of zeroes written on the cheque?

I was reading an interesting book which touched a little on giving ("Doing Good While Doing Well" by Doug Carter). Doug quotes Stan Toler's book on the two kinds of giving:

1. Grudge giving (feeling forced to give)
2. Obligatory giving (feeling obligated to give)

I think many of us fall under category two. When a collection for donation comes, it's either a "grudge giving" or mainly, an "obligatory giving". How many of us can honestly say we give charitably from the bottom of our hearts? We mimic the person beside us who dropped in some change. Then we fumbled through our wallets for the smallest denomination.

Yes, it may be true that we can easily give in the following examples: A child gets RM10 pocket money and tithes 10% of it (RM1). A students earns his pay cheque of RM1000 and happily tithed 10% (RM100). Sounds reasonable, right?

What if you are a businessman who profited RM1 million? Would you still give away RM100,000 willingly? Or will it be an "obligatory giving"?

Many philanthropist can be seen giving away few thousand ringgits to charities but do you realise that it is hardly a few percent of his total income? That is why he/she is willing to do it. If you ask him to part 10% of what he owns, that'll be another question.

Therefore, giving is not just based on a large amount to low or middle-income people. It should be based in proportion of what you get. RM1 from a low-income earner is far greater than RM1 from a tycoon. After all, we cannot take this material wealth along with us when we die. Just put aside a little to give back to other people who really need it. (Not intending to condemn rich people but basically trying to point out the misconception of generosity)

Perhaps, we should think of all our possession as God's possession. Everything we have belongs to Him. On earth, we are merely stewards of this material possession. We are suppose to take care of it. In return, He lets us enjoy this wealth but since it doesn't belong to us fully in the first place, we should share it with others who are in dire straits of it.

Hence, real generosity should be defined as delightful giving. Whereby the person gives from the bottom of their hearts and not the bottom of their pockets. It is giving out of a heart of gratitude for God's faithfulness.

Nowadays there are so many unscrupulous people taking advantage of our charitable nature with false donation drive. This puts people off from giving. Therefore, we should find a proper channel or organisation who can really make use of the giving and give happily to them.

On a final note, do not look at how much the other person is giving. Just give based on what you can and be happy with it. Afterall, God loves a cheerful giver! :)

Interesting quotations from the book to take note of:

We can worship money and use God, or we can worship God and use money. (Floyd Carter)

Contrary to what Hollywood promotes, it is not what you get or accumulate that makes you significant but what you give away; what you contribute, the value you add to others and what you become in the process.(Dave Anderson)

So let everyone give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:7-8, NKJV)

Checkbooks and receipts reveal our most tightly held values. Whether or not we talk openly about what is most important to us, how we use money gives us away. (Mark Vincent)

I strongly agree that we should look back at our spending account. That will be a dead giveaway on what we truly cherish as treasures through spending the most money on it.

Then maybe we will finally realise that we should "use" money and not "worship" it by hoarding or we will end up like Smeagol from Lord of the Rings.

1 comment:

Alina said...

I agree people should be more generous, but I can understand the cynicism as well - you hear about fake charities and swindlers a lot.

Sometimes I feel that by giving money, some people are just "buying off" their guilt. If someone gives money every month, it doesn't mean they can then be stingy if someone genuinely comes to them for help, or give them the right to be rude and mean because they've already fulfilled their "quota" of good deeds. One should also have the "spirit" or generosity. :)