If there were something that I would identify as lacking in our current world, I would say that it is a generosity of spirit. Social media, discourse, attitudes, emails and other communications often reflect a lack of generosity of spirit. We criticise, make assumptions, denigrate one another's opinions or convictions, take cheap shots and slander others - often without knowing facts. Rather than a generosity of spirit there is a stinginess of spirit. A cheapness and shallowness of spirit.
What would a generous spirit look like? Look at this list from 1 Corinthians 13: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Or consider the Fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
If we were to measure our words, attitudes and actions against these two core Biblical passages, we would see a much more civil and God honoring discourse.
There are several ways we can nurture a generous spirit toward others.
First, choose to assume the best rather than the worst. Here is an interesting observation: We always want others to assume the best about our motives, words and actions but we often assume the worst about the motives, words and actions of others. Why? We are sinful - and we overestimate our own righteousness and underestimate the righteousness of others. Choosing to assume the best rather than the worst is a choice we make and it directly impacts our own attitude.
Second, respond as if Jesus was in the room. How might we modify our words, actions and attitudes if Jesus were sitting next to us. And he does through His Holy Spirit who is resident in our hearts. I wonder how many times I have made the Holy Spirit wince, sigh and sad by my responses to others or emails I have sent or words I have spoken. And think of how generous He is with us even as we are often stingy in our response to others. The passages in 1 Corinthians 13 and the Fruit of the Spirit reflect His character and a generosity of spirit.
Third, Before we act, never assume you have all the facts. Faulty assumptions are the result of faulty facts and those facts we think we know are often more driven by gossip, incomplete facts, and our own interpretation of those facts than by the facts themselves. I cannot count how many times I have made faulty assumptions based on incomplete, inaccurate or just wrong "facts." Generosity of spirit always assumes that we may not know the complete story.
There is a beauty about people who nurture a generosity of spirit. They exhude grace, understanding and kindness. They give people space and grace. Their words build rather than tear down. Time with them is encouraging rather than discouraging. They relfect the character of Jesus. This is who I want to be. How about you?