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Generous Life Devotional - Apr. 4, 2014

Withholding Generosity

Verse: Matthew 5:42

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.


As you might be able to see, my thinking on giving to pan handlers or beggars on the streets of the U.S. has made an 180˚ shift over the years. Back in the 90s, when I worked the streets of my local downtown helping the homeless and disenfranchised, I would discourage those who wanted to help from giving any cash handouts to them. Often, I would advise people to buy them a meal, give them work, or make a donation to the homeless mission, instead.

Now, as I’ve mellowed and would like to think my heart has come more in tune with the Holy Spirit, I wonder if my former approach was just an excuse to withhold my generosity.

In those days, I often thought of giving only if it had strings attached. For example, I’d give you a place to live, if it was under my rules. Or give you some money to get your driver’s license, if you could prove you’d use the money for that purpose.

Just the other day, my wife, Kim, and I were at a strip mall. There we saw a woman and two girls sitting on the curb near a high traffic area. They were holding a cardboard sign that said, “Anything will help.” I noticed one of the daughters typing on a laptop. Immediately, I thought: ‘If they can afford a laptop, why are they begging?’ Or ‘Shouldn’t they sell their laptop before they start begging?’

Then, I recognized this was in direct opposition to Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 5:42.

Jesus tells us not to turn away.

In that moment, I realized that I do not know this family’s situation. Shall I withhold my generosity based upon assumptions? Jesus tells us to give to the one who asks. What if the Father had withheld the propitiation of my sins through His Son, Jesus, because, by all appearances, I ‘had it together?’ What a precious gift I would have missed!


The next time you find yourself withholding your generosity and making justifications to turn away, take note of that dialog in your head. Then, give and give generously. This should be Christ’s response in you.

And as soon as possible write that situation down here at http://www.generouslife.net/day67.

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