There's a pretty big homeless, jobless community in downtown Madison.
I walked past a man today who asked me if I had any change. I told him I didn't (I actually didn't), but that I'd be back in a little while and would have something for him. When I got back to the spot, he was not there. Another man had come and taken his place.
For some reason, I didn't give any money to the new man, even though I was willing to give some to the one who had asked me earlier. I wonder if I was being generous or if some other force was at work in me (guilt? pride? laziness?).
Money is tighter nowadays. Jobs are harder and harder to come by nowadays. So many of my former students are out of work. Many of my donors have lost jobs. After a long, long search, my good friend Lou just landed a teaching job and he really deserves it. He worked hard for it and will be great teacher. But his good outcome is an all too rare one in times like these.
Times like these surface our relationship with money. It's easy to appear generous when money is flowing easily, when you have plenty. But to give the widow's mite, that takes something else.
Amy observed once that I started tipping less when we shifted to paying for food with cash. Was I generous because the money didn't feel like real money?
Generosity is beautiful. God is generous to us and to many. When people are struggling to find work, when people are straining to make ends meet, I wonder what would happen if a church were a generous church, if God's people became known as a generous people.
Are we a generous people?