Generosity is a habit
Patrick Novecosky writes that sadly, when we speak of stewardship, we think of money . . .
Generosity is a habit. To use a sports analogy, it’s like a muscle that, once stretched and flexed, will take us farther than if we’d just kicked back and relaxed. And, like all good behavior, generosity takes practice. The more we give, the more quickly it will become second nature.
Unfortunately, when we speak of giving or stewardship — especially in the Church — people automatically think of money. As Bishop Sam Jacobs points out in his guest editorial, however, God has blessed each of us with much more than what is in our bank accounts and stock portfolios. Stewardship rightly refers to all of the graces God has given us — our time, our abilities and our financial blessings.
Scripture is overflowing with reasons to be generous. Our first pontiff tells us that “as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet 4:10). God’s blessings are not ours alone. He gives them in order that we may build His Kingdom.
Jesus reminds us that we don’t hide a lamp under a bushel basket, but rather we put it on a lampstand so that everyone in the room will be able to see. Similarly, we’re called to use what He’s given us for the glory of his name and the salvation of souls. When good stewards of God’s gifts live Christ-centered rather than self-centered lives, profound gratitude becomes their fundamental motive for giving back. They are compelled to sacrifice in order that others may have more— just as parents sacrifice for their children. They give out of simple heartfelt love.
Just as children recognize their needs, ask their parents to fill them, and are taught to express gratitude, we need to take the same attitude before God who is the most generous of givers. We also need to acknowledge that his gifts to us always exceed our asking — whether we recognize it or not.
With grateful hearts, we begin by taking that excess and giving generously wherever the Lord leads us. Then we must dig a little deeper and give more. Will the Lord leave us with less than we need? Scripture makes it clear that the Lord will never abandon his own — even in difficult economic times.
The November 2009 issue of Legatus Magazine, dedicated to philanthropy, has numerous examples of Legatus members who exemplify Christian giving: John and Carol Saeman, Allen and Kathleen Lund, Jerry Semler, Phyllis Schlafly, and our new board members.
These and numerous others have flexed their “generosity muscles.” They’ve made giving a habit. They are not only to be commended for their bigheartedness, but they are to be emulated — and their efforts replicated — so that the Gospel may be preached to all who would hear it.
Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.