Shattering Myths About Generosity

For many, generosity is an aspiration for the future but not a practice in the present. It is something we want to do but it isn’t a current habit. We often feel like we have too many obligations and too few resources to be truly generous. However, the things that keep us from giving are often myths, false notions with no foundation in reality.

Here are three common myths about generosity:

Myth #1: Only rich people can be generous. 

Generosity has nothing to do with the amount of our material wealth. You can be an hourly wage worker and be the most generous person in the world. The practice of generosity isn’t limited to a particular age, income, or gender. Rather, it is a commitment to give God’s resources to worthy causes rather than merely accumulate or use them to advance our own comfort.

The best examples of generosity come from the materially poor. In the Bible, Jesus commends the woman who gave up her two mites (one dollar in today’s money). According to Jesus, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had” (Luke 21:3-4). She was considered more generous because she had little and gave all she had.

People who have more don’t always give more. The most generous states in America are not the same as the wealthiest states in America. According to Philanthropy Roundtable, people who live in traditionally poor southern states are likely to give a greater percentage of their income than those from wealthier New England States. Moreover, people who make less than $200,000 per year are likely to give more than those who make more than $200,000.

Generosity is never a matter of resources. Rather, it is treating all of God’s resources, no matter how great or small, as gifts from God. Generosity is simply imitating God through a life characterized by giving.

Myth #2: My small gifts can’t make a big difference.

Because we can’t give $500, we often choose to not give $5. We hear appeals for significant sums of money for disaster relief and even for friends going through difficult times. We feel our single-digit donations won’t make enough of a difference.

Small gifts actually make a big difference. The Salvation Army raises nearly $150MM annually through its Red Kettle campaign. Most of this money comes from pocket change. The funds raised through this campaign enable The Salvation Army to help over 30MM Americans every year.

Here is another way to think about it: your gift by itself may not make a big difference. But your gift never stands alone. It is part of a greater community effort. You are not being asked to change the world by yourself. Rather, God invites us to join together and collectively bless others.

Myth #3: If I give money away, I’ll have less money.

It is easy to feel like you are losing money when you give. Though God calls us to be responsible with the use of the resources He’s entrusted to us, He also frees us from a scarcity mindset. A scarcity mindset is when we think that our resources are limited to what we have. As the disciples told Jesus, “We have only five loaves here and two fish” (Matthew 14:17). Like the disciples, a scarcity mindset leads us to hold onto the resources we have out of fear that they won’t be replenished.

The Bible encourages us to have a mindset of abundance. Even though there may be no food when we go to sleep, God is able to provide fresh manna every morning (Exodus 16:1-36). We can give generously because we believe God is able to supply our needs in ways we are not able to foresee. Faith requires believing “give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38).

At The Generosity Trust, we empower Christian generosity. We make it possible for Christians to give a diversity of gifts (cash, stock, bonds, real estate, etc.) to a diverse number of causes (churches, Christian ministries, and other worthwhile causes). Even better, when you use our Giving Fund, there are $0 fees.

Break free from the myths and discover the advantages of our donor-advised funds today.

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