A generous person isn’t just someone who gives a lot. It’s someone who gives a lot because they want to.
Moses taught the ancient Israelites not only to give to those in need, but to do so with the right attitude:
If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him….
Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works.Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10, italics added
The apostle Paul counseled the saints in Corinth to give according to the desires of their hearts. Then, he gave specific instructions about those desires: “Not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver” (1 Corinthians 9:7).
And the prophet Mormon went even further: If we give with the wrong attitude, we may lose the blessings of giving.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.Moroni 7:8
But isn’t it better to give with a bad attitude than not to give at all? Of course it is. The recipient is still blessed by the gift, but the giver may not be. The reluctance and regret may overshadow the joy which might have accompanied the generous act, neutralizing the benefit of their kindness in their own lives.
In November 1831, the Lord instructed church members to share freely with one another. “In your temporal things you shall be equal,” He said, “and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld” (Doctrine and Covenants 70:14). Commenting on this scripture, Elder D. Todd Christofferson said:
We control the disposition of our means and resources, but we account to God for this stewardship over earthly things. It is gratifying to witness your generosity as you contribute to fast offerings and humanitarian projects. Over the years, the suffering of millions has been alleviated, and countless others have been enabled to help themselves through the generosity of the Saints. Nevertheless, as we pursue the cause of Zion, each of us should prayerfully consider whether we are doing what we should and all that we should in the Lord’s eyes with respect to the poor and the needy.
We might ask ourselves, living as many of us do in societies that worship possessions and pleasures, whether we are remaining aloof from covetousness and the lust to acquire more and more of this world’s goods. Materialism is just one more manifestation of the idolatry and pride that characterize Babylon. Perhaps we can learn to be content with what is sufficient for our needs.“Come to Zion,” General Conference, October 2008
Today, I will give generously, not grudgingly. I will remember the importance of not only giving, but of giving with an appropriate attitude.