by Nelio Perez

Generosity according to the current definition is the inclination or disposition to make sacrifices for the good of someone else: someone who is prepared to give unconditionally. It is the sort of generosity that we expect from our neighbor, our family, and the government - even though these are not always prepared to exercise this generosity to meet the needs of those around them.

I'm not referring to a characteristic that some people have, or have acquired by developing it, or have natural or inherited tendencies for it. NO! This is my intention: to present the type of GENEROSITY that is born in heaven. To accomplish this, the best thing to do is to go to the source of divine knowledge: His Word. Pay attention to the following scripture:

Matthew 6:22-23, The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.

I'd like to share with you how the Judio-Christian scholars have translated these words of Jesus. As we already know, the New Testament was originally written in Greek, but when these words were actually spoken they were spoken in Aramaic, the common language of the people.

In the light of these studies, the words spoken by Jesus were an idiomatic expression referring to our theme: generosity and its opposite, stinginess. Now, taking into account these studies, let's look again at our text:

"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be generous (if YOU are GENEROUS) thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be stingy (if YOU are STINGY), thy whole body shall be full of darkness."

The Lord spoke these words in the scriptural setting or context that concerned our actions in relation to God and our neighbor. He mentions our responsibility in the giving of tithes and offerings, in the lifting up of prayers, and in fasting. All this is linked with our attitude behind giving something up or away, or parting with something. Things like material goods, our free time, or abstaining from eating something that we like a lot. When we do this, it displays a generous attitude. On the other hand, and in the same context, and so there will be no doubt, the Lord made of all this a question of lordship.

Who do we serve? If we serve God the results will be a "good eye" or a generous spirit. If we serve Mammon or ourselves, the results will be a "bad eye" or a selfish and stingy spirit. Jesus has placed two paths before us: the one of GENEROSITY and the one of SELFISHNESS. The path we choose depends on which master we have elected to serve.

At this point in our reflection on the words of Jesus, it would be good to ask this question:
Is all that we do governed by the spirit of generosity?

Now let's think a few moments on these questions:
How much of what we do is only out of obedience?
How much of what we do is only because we know that it is good to do it?
How much of what we do is only because we want to look like good Christians?

If we consider these questions as sufficient for a personal examination to see if we have a GOOD EYE or a GENEROUS SPIRIT, our analysis would be rather superficial. We would only be "DOERS" of something. We need to remember that the cold letter of the law kills; it doesn't edify the spirit.

Let's consider some other aspects:
What if we are generous in the area of money but we despise our neighbor and speak badly of him, or are consumed with envy against him?
What if we are generous in many areas of our lives but have developed an exalted concept of ourselves to the point that we can't forgive the offences or sins of others?
What if we are so full of self-righteousness because God speaks to us and because we enjoy His presence but have lost sight of the great necessity of the real world that is lost and full of suffering and hopeless people?

What if we are so involved in doing and speaking for God that we disregard His faithfulness and the spirit of generosity which should be our motivation for the giving of our finances to the church or missionaries?

Really, we could continue asking lots of different questions but this is sufficient to understand that what Jesus was saying in the Word involved ALL that we have and ALL that we are. We need to find the correct balance for our actions; a balance that is only obtainable when the light of God penetrates this area of our lives.

Some might say that it is very difficult to have this GOOD EYE or this GENEROUS SPIRIT. Yes, this is true when we look at our own poor human limitations. If we attempt this in our own strength it will be just legalism, a religious action. But God hasn't called us to be religious but rather to be followers of the One Who is the perfect example of generosity: JESUS CHRIST.

If the light of God shines in us we will see our selfishness, but along with that, we will also see the wonderful Holy Spirit - the Spirit of Truth - Who will guide us to, and in, the correct path of generosity; that we might have a good eye to do the work for and through Jesus.

So, what we do is we take the promise and act according to it: "Give and it shall be given unto you..." Act upon it every day and depend on heaven for the marvelous grace of the Lord. Amen!