Giving Away What Wasn’t His

When 67-year-old carpenter Russell Herman died in 1994, his will included a staggering set of bequests. Included in his plan for distribution was more than two billion dollars for the City of East St. Louis, another billion and a half for the State of Illinois, two and a half billion for the national forest system, and to top off the list, Herman left six trillion dollars to the government to help pay off the national debt. That sounds amazingly generous, but there was a small problem—Herman’s only asset when he died was a 1983 Oldsmobile. He made grand pronouncements, but there was no real generosity involved. His promises were meaningless because there was nothing to back them up.

True generosity is not determined by the amount that we give but by our hearts. When Jesus saw the widow give two mites in the Temple He responded, “Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury” (Matthew 12:43). The sacrificial gift that she gave demonstrated how much she loved God and His work. The best way to determine what we love most is not by our words but by how we use our time and our money.

Source: Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1995

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