Motives are at the heart of generosity. Why are you generous? What action, event, cause, purpose, or reason makes you generous? Every person has a different motivation for being generous.
The writer of Proverbs in the Bible says that one motivation is to get nothing in return. Feeding the poor means you don't expect anything in return. In fact, you'll probably be met with suspicion as to why you're feeding the poor - suspicion from both the poor you're helping and from your peers who wonder at your motives. So, to see who is truly generous, see how they act around the truly poor. Observe them, their interactions with the less fortunate. Watch what they say and how they say it to those with few financial means.
A few times (too few, really) I've taken action to be generous according to this verse. Each time I've come away changed. I tell these stories to remind myself to be more generous more often - because it is good for me. Ironically, each time I share, I'm blessed; each time I give, I get.
- While I was in grad school, I went to the grocery store. At the checkout line, the lady in front of me forgot her wallet at home. She left the items in the checkout line and went to call her family to bring some money. I knew she was poor from what she was buying and having to put back because it cost too much. When she stepped aside, I got $20 from my wallet and paid for her groceries and asked the cashier not to tell her. I paid for my own and left the store. That was over 25 years ago - it is still a fresh memory.
- While on a trip overseas, I came across a family of four who are economic refugees. They travel (with two young children) from country to country looking for jobs. My heart aches for the kids who think this is normal and who don't have the opportunity to have a solid education so they can become professionals to break the economic cycle. My wife and I gave them about $50 (all the money we had on hand). That was last year - I pray they have found a home and a well-paying job, but I doubt it.
I challenge you to be generous in your daily life. Every so often some opportunity will present itself and you'll have a choice - to be generous or to withhold a blessing. Believe me, it won't affect your wallet (it really won't), but it will affect your heart (not to mention the recipient). Be generous.
read: greedy, selfish, self-centered, miserly, stingy