Often life is hard, but God is always good

Image by © Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis

Image by © Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:4 (NIV)

“Pleased to meet you”, I said as I shook Miriam’s hand. She was introduced to me as the math curriculum supervisor at the homeschool company I was touring. My personal connection to the owner brought me to the business and now I was seeing who worked there in addition to how it was all run.

Suddenly, Miriam’s eyes shone with tears: “You are Laure Liversidge, right?”

“Why yes, that’s my maiden name.”

“Your grandmother changed my life,” Miriam asserted with a watery smile. “I used to clean for her. When I confided to her that I wanted to become a teacher, she gave me the funds to go to school.”

I was flabbergasted. The grandmother she was speaking of was the socialite, the wealthy Philadelphian who wore her mink coat to cocktail parties and fed lobster salad to her friends at her spacious summer home in Maine.

My childhood memories of this grandmother included the vision of a lit cigarette dangling from the fingertips of her right hand while the perfectly polished fingernails of her left hand gracefully held a sweating tumbler of expensive scotch on the rocks.

I loved and admired her, but I realize I didn’t fully know her because she gave in secret and no one found out what she did because she didn’t announce it to the world.

What is the test of true generosity? I don’t think it is the amount of the giving; it is the heart of the matter. Not only did my grandmother not announce her giving with trumpets like the hypocrites of Jesus’ day, but I don’t believe she made too much of it to herself .

Matthew Henry commented on the part of Jesus’ teaching about how the”left hand should not know what the right hand is doing:

“That we must not observe it too much ourselves: the left hand is a part of ourselves; we must not within ourselves take notice too much of the good we do, must not applaud and admire ourselves. Self-conceit and self-complacency, and an adoring of our own shadow, are branches of pride, as dangerous as vain-glory and ostentation before men.”

I recently heard another touching story about my grandmother. Years ago, when our childhood nanny asked to have her wedding rehearsal dinner at my grandma’s home, she answered “yes”, and then donned an apron and served the guests herself, including the bride-to-be’s mother who had been her cook for many years.

The state of our heart is what is important. God looks at it and promises to renew it when we ask.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51: 10 (NIV)


Comments on: "Do I Pass the Generosity Test?" (15)

  1. I did not know that about Grandma. She was blessed with much, and used it to bless others. Fabulous!

  2. Catherine Kushner said:

    Thanks for sharing what you are learning. You always teach me in the process and I am grateful!

  3. You are so welcome! I am glad the principle in the story resonates with you! It helps me know I am not just writing for my own benefit!

  4. I did not know these stories and I wonder if your Dad does? Your grandmother did “hide her light under the bushel” in many ways. Her generosity of opening her home to family and friends was well known and I was a beneficiary. She invited my Mom and Dad to visit one summer as well. This is a wonderful piece and quite well written.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I think Dad knows about the funding of the teacher, but not about serving the family at the rehearsal dinner. I look forward to enjoying your blog!

      • I am having a terrible time with the blog. Need expert help and don’t know if it will materialize. Other wonderful things have happened so far. Spent last night and this morning with two women – one a very special Friend who has been a spiritual guide and I was part of her prayer support last year when she addressed our yearly meeting and a new Friend from Australia visiting here in London on business with the group that holds together all the Quakers in the world. We didn’t know they were here but discovered them yesterday – a lovely blessing that kicked off our time here. Still recovering from jet lag though.

  5. How wonderful to be able to learn this about your grandmother, and to know she served the Lord in this cherished way. What a blessing He gave you to bring this into your life!

  6. I love this story about your grandmother. It gave me a beautiful picture of what generosity really looks like and I pray that I never forget it!

  7. This literally brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story about your grandmother (including the dangling cigarette which was a hoot!)

  8. You are so welcome! I wish I could’ve worked in the bright red lipstick smudges on the cigarette butts in her silver ashtray – or the engraved lighter. She was a character and you know we get those in our lives on purpose to make sure we get certain messages from the Father!

  9. Cecily Kelln said:

    In 1966 (age 23), I returned home unannounced after being in Peru in the Peace Corps for two years. Mom and Dad were not home. They were visiting their in-laws (your grandmother and grandfather) in their Maine summer home. So, still wanting to surprise my parents, I showed up unannounced at your grandmother’s big seaside porch with a big “Ta-dah!” Again, to add graciousness to your grandmother’s character, she welcomed me warmly even though I had crashed the party. She was warm and full of questions and conversation for this eager-to-talk young woman.

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