After my Dad passed away, I learned more about his generous heart. Although I experienced his generosity towards me growing up, it wasn’t until later in life I discovered more about his giving heart toward others. Dad followed Matthew 6:3-4:
He practiced his openhanded acts of kindness quietly. So when I say discovered, it was because he didn’t tell me or do it openly in a way for all to see or know, not even his immediate family. Instead, quietly and respectfully, behind the scenes, he gave in a way that uplifted, encouraged, and guarded the hearts of those he assisted. My Dad’s giving heart taught me about my heavenly Father’s generous heart. Growing up, I knew I could ask him for anything, and it taught me to understand I could ask God for anything, too. As John 14:14 explains, “You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.”
Likewise, I didn’t ever have to be concerned my earthly Dad would give me anything but something wonderful, which taught me the same about my heavenly Father. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” (Luke 11:11) The following are seven lessons my Dad’s tender-hearted giving taught me about living generously.
1. Be respectfully generous.
On the way to my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower, my parents and I found ourselves lost on the seedy side of Chicago on a dark, cold wintry evening. Yet, even in that situation, I witnessed my Dad treat a drunken man on the street with the utmost respect as he called him over to the car to ask for directions.
As a teenager, I questioned my Dad’s wisdom, praying silently in the backseat for God’s protection over us. However, the respectful way he spoke to that man made a long-lasting impression on me. My Dad showed respect towards others based on God’s love for them rather than society’s view of what they deserve. 1 Peter 2:17 reminds us, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
2. Be generous in helpfulness.
Even though I don’t know all the ways my Dad reached out to help others in very practical and impactful ways, I do know of a few. He once supplemented a young mother of eight’s income after her husband, who worked for my Dad, left her and their kids for another woman. He went the extra mile in his position as a hospital administrator, hiring a newly married young couple struggling to find jobs to work in housekeeping so that they could start their life together. Finally, he helped a young man having an awkward time moving into his place to live, providing him with an excellent job and benefits. My Dad didn’t just talk the talk; he walked the walk, helping others when it was in his ability to do so. He lived out what Hebrew 13:16 encourages,
“And to not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
3. Be quietly generous.
My Dad bought groceries for those who had little, took people out to eat, gave away cars, and more things I probably haven’t heard about yet. He was quietly generous, and my discoveries about his giving came from others who told me how he had helped them. Dad lived out 2 Corinthians 9:11-12: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
4. Be mercifully generous.
Dad didn’t seem to give based on whether or not individuals seemed deserving of receiving it. Instead, he gave when he saw a need, realizing God offers salvation to the undeserving, which is all of us. Romans 5:2 discusses how, because of our faith, Christ has brought us into a place of undeserved privilege where we now stand and confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. As James 2:13 reminds us, with God, mercy triumphs over judgment.
5. Be generous in serving.
God goes out of His way to help the broken, the weary, and the downcast. He helps those who can’t help themselves because of physical or emotional limitations. Even though people may look down on those who are weak, God is compassionate toward them. Isaiah 40:26 explains,
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
My Dad’s heart expressed this compassion towards others. He understood and modeled God this way to those who needed help, consciously assisting people who others might say could have helped themselves. People sometimes don’t know how to be on their own, but with the loving support of others, uplifting and encouraging them, they can learn how to walk through the process. Dad seemed to understand and follow God’s example, as in Jeremiah 31:25, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
6. Be generous in loving others.
Most of all, my Dad loved people out of the love he received from his heavenly Father. Growing up under a harsh earthly father, he didn’t learn to love through him but through God’s love for him. 1 John 4:19 describes how this happens, “We love because He first loved us.”
Dad didn’t underestimate the influence God gives us. Through loving others, we can lead individuals to reconciliation with Him. 2 Corinthians 5:20 reminds us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” My Dad chose to love others; it was a joy and privilege for him to do so, not a burden. He lovingly practiced Romans 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
7. Be generously compassionate. My Dad helped people who didn’t have anything to offer him in return. They were primarily individuals seeking to begin, start over, struggle through, or finish up in life. He taught me to make sure my heart is right when doing things for others, not expecting something in return but doing it unto the Lord. He lived out, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). Dad demonstrated God’s heart, as described in Luke 14:13, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/FredFroese
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.