Anyone remember Mr. Potter from the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life” ? Potter is the “crabby banker” portrayed by veteran actor Lionel Barrymore in the 1946 Frank Capra film. Potter represents all the negative qualities of greed and avarice … cheating, lying, jealousy, ugliness. I’ve never heard anyone say, “boy when I grow up, I want to be just like Mr. Potter.” In the end, we’re all happy to see that the good guy, George Bailey, wins and Potter loses.
George Bailey, played by James Stewart, is the opposite of Potter. Where Potter is an angry tightwad, George is a spontaneously generous and happy man. He’s someone who you can count on to help you out in a jam. He never got rich because he used his opportunities and money to help other people…. but he was rich in friendships.
I’m struck by the many people I know who are “spontaneously generous”. They are generous with their time, talents, and treasure. When you asked them for help, they tend to quickly say YES…almost without thinking or calculating.
Years ago I got a notification from the Newark Police that they had located my stolen car and that I could come down to the police station to get the paperwork and pick it up. (How all this happened will be the subject of another BLOG). Anyway, I mentioned it to my friend Paul and he immediately said he would take me… no “hemming and hawing”. It was quite a saga… maneuvering thru Newark and the bowels of the police station and then over to the huge car yard where you thought you’d never get out alive …the car not in running condition… limping home, and then getting the car repaired. Through it all my good friend was spontaneously generous with his time and friendship. He didn’t calculate how much he could do, he was there for the duration, until the task was complete. I continue to be amazed.
My wife is another spontaneously generous person…when asked to help, the answer is always and quickly YES…. sure I can do that…. “you need a meal, you need a ride, you need prayers, ….. whatever it is, she is there. I know a lot more George Baileys than I do Mr. Potters.
To be honest, I have a ways to go in this regard. Sometimes I’m able to quickly say yes to a request, but sometimes I get out the adding machine and start calculating the cost…. “hmmmmm, if I do that, it means I won’t be able to do that….uuuugh, I don’t know, let me get back to you.” Yet, because of the many excellent examples and the grace of God, I’m doing better.
As we more and more realize how much God has done for us, all of his spontaneous acts of kindness in our regard, I think we will all continue to grow in generosity….. and that is very good news.