We’re often moved to generosity when we see a person in need. And while generosity is certainly a good thing, we must also be wise in our giving.
The old adage of teaching a man to fish rather than simply giving him a fish shows the value of wise generosity.
Of course, when a person is starving it’s not time for a teaching lesson. But there comes a point after basic needs are met in which generosity focuses on the long-term interest of the other.
We see this in the life and teachings of Christ. Often he met physical needs before sharing spiritual truths.
Wise generosity is giving people what they need and not merely what they want.
For example, our child might want us to keep bailing him out of his bad choices. But the most generous thing we can do for him is to let him experience healthy doses of reality.
This is not what he wants, but it’s probably what he needs.
And this plays out in our tendency to equate generosity with money as well. While it’s convenient to write a check or drop some cash to a person in need, many times the greatest need is not financial.
Wise generosity calls for us to meet the true needs of others and not simply give what’s convenient.
In the end, it takes much wisdom to discern the best way to offer ourselves and our resources to others.
We don’t want to overthink our giving and leave people starving either literally or figuratively in the meantime. But we must still regularly step back and consider if our giving is truly serving the best long-term interest of others.
By all means, be generous. But also be wise in your generosity.