IN Brooklyn, New York, the last Saturday afternoon in June was extremely hot and humid. But that did not keep Christian ministers of Jehovah from calling at the homes of the people, looking for rooming accommodations for their fellow ministers who were coming from 96 different lands to attend the New World Society Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which was to be held at the Yankee Stadium in just three weeks. Evidently the weather had driven most of the Brooklynites to the beach or the country, for in the majority of the places no one answered the doorbell.
At one apartment a woman was speaking on the phone as the minister rang her bell. The door being open, she called out, asking what was wanted. The minister began to explain the purpose of his call but was cut short with “Nothing doing here!” Then, continuing her phone call, she explained to the person at the other end of the line: “That was the Watchtower. Imagine the nerve of those people, coming around looking for rooms!”
However, about an hour earlier in the afternoon a woman had invited the minister in. “I’m living alone,” she said. “My son just left for Korea. I’ll be glad to let you have his room.” As the minister explained the need of rooms the woman stated: “You say they are ministers? I’ll let them have my own bedroom also. I can go on my vacation while they are here and they can have the use of the whole apartment. I’ll wait until they arrive and turn the key over to them. . . . Climbing stairs on such a hot afternoon! Could I offer you a glass of cold ginger ale?” Which of these two women was the happier, the wiser?
Of course most persons would say that the one who showed generosity was the wiser, the happier of the two, but by their actions many of such would belie their words. The tendency of the times is to get all one possibly can and to give as little as possible. The clock watcher at the office or factory certainly is not generous with his time, energy and brains. The housewife who rushes through her duties so that she can spend most of her days gossiping or at the movies likewise does not believe in being generous. Neither is the Christian minister who contents himself with merely the average of his congregation’s activities in the matter of time or financial support.
Selfishness is folly. He who is stingy and miserly in his relations with others will receive like currency in return. Not only that, but his whole outlook on life is cramped, skimpy, shallow and small. He gives because he has to, and so does not enjoy giving; the less he gives the less he wants to give and the more it hurts him to give. And, above all, such a one shortchanges himself as regards the favor of Jehovah and the blessings he has in store for his generous servants.
How strikingly different from all such niggardliness is the example set by Jehovah God! Generously he purposed for man to live forever and enjoy endless and inexhaustible blessings upon earth. And not only in his material blessings but also in his spiritual gifts is Jehovah generous: “If anyone of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”—Jas. 1:5, NW.
Solomon appreciated the wisdom of generosity. “There is that scattereth, and increaseth yet more; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth only to want. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” And again, “Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, yea, even unto eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.”—Prov. 11:24, 25; Eccl. 11:1, 2, AS.
Christ Jesus stressed the wisdom of generosity also. “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out they will measure out to you in return.” Also, “If someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one asking you, and do not turn away from one that wants to borrow from you without interest.”—Luke 6:38; Matt. 5:41, 42, NW.
Paul also makes this point, particularly in his second letter to the Corinthians: “Our heart has widened out. . . . I speak as to children—you, too, widen out.” “He that sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”—2 Cor. 6:11, 13; 9:6, NW.
But let us not make the mistake of thinking that the wisdom of generosity applies only in a material way. Christian ministers may often be like the apostles Peter and John who had neither silver nor gold to give to the cripple lying at the temple door, but who were able to give something far more valuable, physical health. Surely our gifts of the truth, the hope and comfort of God’s kingdom resulting in spiritual health, are far more valuable than any gold and silver we or any others may be able to give. And to the extent that we are generous with our time and energy in bringing comfort to others, to that extent we shall be “watered,” refreshed, and become “fat,” prosperous, spiritually. Our example of generosity will most likely awaken generous sentiments in men of good will.
Still another respect in which we can show generosity and be enriched by it is by showing mercy. We can be generous in our judgment of others, those with whom we live as members of a family, those with whom we rub elbows at our places of employment, and our associates in the Christian congregation. We all are imperfect, we all make mistakes.
Then again we may hear unfavorable reports regarding one. The wise course is to be generous, charitable, forgiving as regards the failings of others. As far as possible give them the benefit of the doubt; reason that there must have been extenuating circumstances. That kind of thinking makes for our own peace of mind and puts us in position to be able to help erring ones. Better to err on the side of being too generous and forgiving than on the side of being too severe and unyielding. Showing mercy we shall receive mercy.
Truly, to show generosity is the wise course: it enriches both the one to whom it is extended and the one showing it, whether it be expressed in material or spiritual gifts or in the showing of mercy to others. Generosity enriches.