Virtue of Generosity

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

The virtue of generosity is giving to another person something of yours as an act of freewill.  It is giving something usually monetary not out of obligation but out of goodness of one’s heart.

It is giving freely not expecting something in return and not even a thank you.  If we are giving out of a sense of self-interest or expecting a payback, it would be selfishness and not generosity.  That’s why I always tip my hat off to those who donate to a parish church that don’t want their name mentioned and leave themselves to be known only as an anonymous donor.  These are the people who don’t expect to be rewarded, not even a reward from God.  They just give, because for them the act of giving is in itself a reward already. They feel good sharing a piece of themselves.  This is why virtue is its own reward.  All virtues give us a good feeling about ourselves but especially the virtue of generosity because it makes others happy.  It’s like a double reward.

This reminds me of what I think is the best way to make ourselves happy. The best way to make yourself happy is by making others happy. The worldly way of happiness is to focus on oneself by having the best car, the best dress, the best house, etc.  We have tried out this worldly formula so many times but with the same result, emptiness and dissatisfaction.  We still don’t learn that our true joy lies not in looking out for ourselves but only in looking out for others.

Generosity is not only for those who have many things in life. Generosity is measured by the goodness of one’s heart. Thus, even the materially poor can be generous.  Dr. Peter Kreeft said, “Generosity is not measured by how much you give but by how much is left (in you) after you have given.” This explains why Christ heaped the greatest praise on the poor widow although she only dropped two drachmas. (Mk 12:43) She had given everything she had while the others were giving something extra. This is not to say that those who did not give everything as the poor widow did were wicked people.  We don’t commit a sin by being less generous. The act of giving is in itself something good. Our Lord is just telling us that we can be more generous and that we should not put a limit on how much we can give.

This applies especially on the things of God or being generous to God. We can’t for example limit our time of prayer or limit ourselves with fulfilling the minimum like attending only Sunday Masses. Remember that if we are more generous with God it is for our own good. If we attend more Masses for example, we become more close to Him, we pray more, we receive more graces to become good Christians, we become more virtuous, become more generous and in the end become more peaceful and joyful.  Isn’t that a good bargain?

With God, he prefers that we give more time to Him because He is a lover.  He wants to develop that relationship with us more than giving Him things or money because God does not need it. He owns the universe but He cannot own our heart.  We will always have to freely give it to Him.