The Berean Expositor
Volume 32 - Page 176 of 246
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Separate Features. Generosity.
pp. 218 - 220
"Here we see . . . . . that generosity which looked for no other reward than `to preach
the glad tidings of Christ' without charge, and made him feel that he would rather die
`than that any man should make this glorying void'." (Conybeare and Howson).
The word "generous" comes from genus, stock or race, and its first meaning is, "Of
noble lineage; high born" and it is so used by Shakespeare, "Most generous Sir", where
we would say "High born" or "Noble". The meaning "liberal in giving" is secondary but
in modern usage has come to the fore.
In Hamlet Shakespeare makes play upon this connection between genus and
generosity. When the king, who has murdered his own brother and married his brother's
widow, addresses Hamlet, the murdered king's son, with the words: "But now, my
cousin Hamlet, and my son", Shakespeare, playing upon the double meaning of the word
"kind", makes Hamlet interject, as an aside, "A little more than kin, and less than kind".
Generosity serves out of love; it is disinterested; it is chivalrous; it scorns the
hireling's motive. This quality is well-marked in the portrait of the Apostle. He might
have been burdensome as an apostle, yet, he acted rather as a nursing mother
(I Thess. 2: 6, 7), a figure which earth's store of language cannot surpass as a type of
self-forgetting, free-giving, love. Writing to the Corinthians the Apostle said:--
"Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I
have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of
them, to do you service . . . . . . . Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth"
(II Cor. 11: 7-11).
Generosity is not manifested only, or even chiefly, in the sphere of finance. Nothing
could be more generous than the Apostle's attitude to the churches, whose divisions,
whose failings, and whose cares, were such a burden upon his heart. It is characteristic of
the opening of his epistles that he gives thanks for some spiritual quality evident among
those addressed, even though he finds it necessary to follow with severe censure, as in
I Cor. 1:  The complete absence of such commendation in Gal. 1: is therefore the more
striking. The white heat of his concern for the Galatians and his indignation at the
inroads of the Judaizers, brooked no delay, not even for courtesy or for generosity. Yet,
if generosity is associated with one's genus or kind, surely the kindest thing that Paul
could do was, without truce or parley, to smite to the ground, that which threatened the
free men of God with the chains and fetters of bondage.
Paul's generosity is again manifested in his word to the Philippians:--
"If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, reckon these things" (Phil. 4: 8).