Practicing contagious generosity
For many years my wife and I raised our family in an older community with many beautiful boulevard trees, but very few young families. Despite our best efforts, our neighbours were aloof and at times confrontational, but we loved our little home and the family we were building there.
Last summer we made the big decision to move. Although it’s a short distance away from our old house, our new neighbourhood is completely different. The week we moved in, neighbours came out of their houses to welcome us to the community. People passing by stopped to chat.
We found ourselves surrounded by families with children eager to welcome new kids into their games. It wasn’t just a surface friendliness that wore off once we got settled; over the past year, we have been blown away by the kindness and generosity of our neighbours.
This football season, my son ran home from a playdate excited that our neighbours had offered us two tickets to the CFL game that evening. We love sports and the game was starting right away. My wife and I quickly discussed the logistics and sent my son back out to let the family know he and I would love to join them. Unfortunately, we had taken a bit too long and they were already driving away. My son broke into tears of disappointment.
Reaching for my cell, I called them and they assured us the tickets were ours if we could get to the game. Meanwhile, the retired couple from across the street had noticed the commotion of us trying to flag down the departing vehicle and quickly offered to drive us to the stadium so we wouldn’t have to worry about parking. I was amazed! What a gift! My son and I enjoyed the game immensely thanks to the generosity of our neighbours.
Thinking of my new neighbourhood, I can’t help but be reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark’s Gospel “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 31 NIV).
Our neighbourhood has become a practical model of this commandment for our children, and we have found the generosity around us is contagious. It fills me with joy when I see my children emulating the kindness they see around them.
Shortly after we moved in, our nine-year-old announced he’d invited some neighbourhood kids over for dinner. My wife and I encouraged him to invite their parents as well, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner getting to know them.
Another time, our son invited some of the neighbourhood boys over to play video games, and before we knew it we had a houseful of kids playing and sharing a meal together. We’ve had more neighbours over for brunch and dinner in the past year than we did in the previous ten years in our old neighborhood.
For a school fundraiser, we bought two cases of apples, and my wife made apple pies that the kids and I delivered to some of our neighbours. In the winter, we shovel the driveway for a single mom down the street and help mow her lawn in the spring. It doesn’t feel like hard work, either. In fact, there is an atmosphere of easy joy about it.
I see this same joy when I am helping clients plan their giving using Abundance Canada services, and I feel so privileged to assist in their generosity journeys. I have always been delighted by the connection I see between generous living and generous giving among my clients. Since our family move, this connection has become even clearer to me. Each day, my new neighbourhood teaches me that it really is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NIV). And, we have been blessed so richly.
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