Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Idealism vs. Generosity

I recently came to the realization that idealism is not synonomous with generosity.

On one hand, a person can have the noblest thoughts and best intentions, yet they can be very tight with their money. In that case, their generosity is not commensurate with their idealism.

On the other hand, one can be very generous with their money, yet not very idealistic in how they're spending it. In that case, their idealism is not commensurate with their money.

But on further reflection, generosity doesn't have to be only about money. It can also be about time. For example, I'm probably more generous with my money than with my time. My wife is perhaps more generous with her time than with her money. And my mother is more generous than I with both her time and money, but perhaps less idealistic.

Looking back at the scriptures posted 9/19/06, several scriptures talk about helping others in need, by clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, liberating the captive, administering relief to the sick and the afflicted, etc. Several scriptures also talk of sharing one's riches with others. To me, giving -- time, money, or both -- is the generous part. And my interpretation of Luke 21:1-4 is that God will judge our generosity in relative terms, not in absolute terms.

But idealism is mentioned as well. For example, Christ tells us that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12: 33) Furthermore, "if a man...giveth a gift...grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift." (Moroni 7:6-8) So to me, idealism matters.

Does generosity matter? Does idealism matter? I believe they both do. Actions speak louder than words, but the actions need to be well-placed and for the right reasons.

1 comment:

Stacie said...

I agree that idealism and generosity are both desirable--kind of a faith/works combination (you probably say so). To me, the scriptures you cite to encourage idealism apply as much to generosity as to idealism--generosity includes both attitude and action; idealism is believing that your generosity can actually make a difference. I don't know whether you would say that charity encompasses/requires both generosity and idealism.