A few weeks ago at the Morehouse College graduation ceremony, billionaire Robert F. Smith was given an honorary doctorate. During his commencement address, he told the nearly four hundred graduating seniors, “My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans!” The news story went viral—because the student debt from each person adds up to a gift of about $40 million.
Graduate Aaron Mitchom stood on the top of his chair and said, “Thank you, God, I’m debt free.”
Dwytt Lewis, a 21-year-old from Compton, CA, who at one time had been homeless, said, “Just imagine the weight lifted off your shoulders when you have a clean slate coming out of college.” He had more than $150,000 in debt wiped away. He added, “I’m so motivated to go change the world.”
Which is exactly what Smith was hoping for. He told the class that he expects them to “pay it forward” and challenged alumni to give future classes the same opportunity.
Just a few days later, I was listening to a radio station when the hosts asked the listeners, “What would you do if you could give away over $40 million?”
People called in sharing their dreams of creating a foundation, helping researchers find cures for diseases, building a retreat center for military members. These were all worthy and noble causes.
It’s fun to dream of those things, isn’t it? I couldn’t help thinking, however, that I’m probably never going to be faced with the reality of having $40 million to give away. And neither are you.
So the question for us is this: “What are you going to do with your $4? With your $40? With your $400? With your $4,000?”
You see, the Bible’s news stories are not usually about who gives the largest amount. Instead, the ones that go viral are about people who recognize that Jesus has wiped their slates clean, that their eternal debt has been paid, and they can’t wait to pay it forward and change the world by giving generously—even though it may not have seemed like much. Jesus praised the woman who only gave two small coins because that was all she had. A little boy shared his two small fish and five loaves of bread—and Jesus used it to feed over 5,000 people.
You may not have been blessed with $40 million to give away, but you have been blessed. Maybe you can’t create your own foundation or your own retreat for military members, but you can volunteer at or donate to ones that already exist. You can be generous with your time, your prayers, your money, your words—and then watch as our God blesses those efforts and changes people’s lives.
Please leave a comment sharing how someone’s generosity has changed your life.
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. It’s probably a good thing she doesn’t have $40 million to give away because she really can’t decide what she would do with it.
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