Generosity and humility

Generosity and humility

I have enjoyed a delightful time really taking to heart the huge word “love” and trying to assimilate its wonderful qualities. I would like to think that this short four-letter word has made a difference in my life and that others can see and experience it in our day-to-day contact. I have learned several things from Professor Henry Drummond, who wrote the little gem “The Greatest Thing in the World,” where he avidly declares that love is indeed that. The edition I have is copyrighted in 1890, by James Pott and Co.

Drummond bases his manuscript on 1 Corinthians 13, which is often noted as “the love chapter” of the Bible. I suggest you read the short 13 verses making up this chapter. Interesting to note that it is Chapter 13 and offers 13 verses. It ends with these famous words, “And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity” (also translated in Scripture as love). If we don’t have love, we don’t have much in life, and truthfully, everyone looks for love to satisfy the soul and heart.

We found that patience is love suffering long and that kindness is recommended for daily living. Today we learn that generosity is love that does not envy. Humility is teaching us that love doesn’t put itself above others and in honor, we prefer one another. These truths could change our lives forever. Drummond wrote, “The greatest thing man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.” When were we last kind, on purpose, to someone else? When did we offer a free gift with no strings attached and no thought of return? When did we simply give to be giving because we were motivated by pure love?

Generosity is love not envying in any way, shape or form. Envy is a feeling of ill will toward those who are in the same line as us. It contains a spirit of covetousness and detraction. It always takes away rather than adds. A simple definition of generosity is “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish; the quality of simply being generous.”

I have learned that we do not have to possess a lot of the world’s riches to be generous. We can give of our time, talent and treasures that do not require a lot of spending. To be generous with one’s time is a wonderful trait.

Humility takes some understanding. There are differences between helpful and hurtful pride, and though we are encouraged to be good stewards of our time and gifts, we are taught not to be proud or unseemly. Humility is to put a seal upon our lips and forget what we have done. After we have been kind, after love has gone forth into the world, we should go back into the shade of our lives and say nothing about it. Love waives even self-satisfaction.

I recently read a story of a housekeeper living on the Mississippi Delta. She worked hard all of her life, sending her own biological children through college. Only after her death did several young people in the community realize that on her meager salary and thrifty living habits, she had also helped to send many other through college and into the working world. Not only was Hattie generous, she was also humble about it and did not receive glowing awards and wordy tributes. She surely understood the verses into 1 Corinthians 13.

Let’s think about these two virtues so intertwined with love in our own lives. How can we be generous to others and remain humble and serene about our gifts?

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.