In today’s reading from 2 Corinthians 8, Paul brings up something that has proven to be true time and time again in studies.  He is talking to the Corinthians about taking up a collection for the Jerusalem church, and brings up the churches in Macedonia.  He says…

They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor.  But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.  For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.  And they did it of their own free will.  They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:2-4).

For years now, it has been shown through experiments and statistics that the poor tend to be more generous than the rich.  They don’t necessary give more in terms of the bottom line, but they give a higher percentage of their income.  One article puts it like this:

The generosity of poor people isn’t so much rare as rarely noticed, however.  In fact, America’s poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show.  What’s more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America’s households contributed an average of 4.3% of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007.  The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate at 2.1%.

There are all kinds of reasons that have been put out there as to why this is the case – psychological benefits, increased compassion, actually knowing people in need, etc. – but what it all boils down to is that the poor tend to be more generous.

When you read the above, how does that make you feel?  Do you feel like it can’t be right?  That “those people” can’t really be more generous than you?  Are you challenged by the thought that there are those with less who are giving at a greater capacity?  Are you one of the ones who does give more than the average?  What do our giving patterns say about us?

So many times in our lives, we are so concerned about our money and where it is going.  We want to make sure that it benefits us in some way.  It has a hold on us that we don’t really want to acknowledge.  Generosity has the ability to break that hold.  In being generous to those in need, we show that we are not controlled by our money or our concern for our money.