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April 20, 2024

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The Importance of Not Cutting Corners in Life

Introduction In the fast-paced world we live in today, it’s tempting to take shortcuts to save time, effort, or resources.…

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“Be just before you are generous” is a thought-provoking English proverb that has been passed down through generations, offering valuable insights into the balance between justice and generosity in our lives. This age-old adage carries a significant message, emphasizing the importance of fairness and equity as a prerequisite for acts of generosity. In this article, we will explore the meaning of this proverb, delve into its possible origins, and provide examples of its application in everyday conversations.

The Meaning Behind the Proverb

At its core, the proverb “Be just before you are generous” underscores the idea that before extending acts of kindness and generosity towards others, one should ensure that justice and fairness prevail. In other words, it suggests that fairness should be the foundation upon which acts of generosity are built.

To elaborate further, being “just” implies adhering to principles of fairness, honesty, and equity in all our dealings. It encourages us to evaluate situations objectively and make decisions that are morally right and justifiable. Only when these principles are upheld should we consider being “generous” by offering help, kindness, or support to others.

Examples in Conversation

  1. Workplace Scenario: Colleague A: “I heard you’re considering giving a substantial donation to the office charity fund.” Colleague B: “Indeed, but I’m waiting for the results of the fundraiser to ensure it’s distributed justly among those in need. I want to be just before I am generous.”
  2. Family Discussion: Parent: “Our children have been asking for allowances. Should we give them extra money this month?” Spouse: “Before we decide, let’s review their chores and responsibilities. We need to be sure they’re contributing fairly to the household, and then we can be generous with their allowances.”
  3. Friendship Dilemma: Friend A: “My friend borrowed money from me to cover their rent, but now they’re asking for more. What should I do?” Friend B: “Before lending more, assess whether they’ve repaid the previous loan as agreed. Being just in this situation is essential before being generous again.”

Possible Origin of the Proverb

The exact origin of this proverb is difficult to pinpoint, as it has likely evolved over time through oral tradition and written works. However, its sentiment aligns with fundamental principles of justice and fairness that have been part of various cultures throughout history.

One possible origin could be traced to ancient philosophical ideas. Philosophers like Aristotle emphasized the importance of justice as a virtue that governs human relationships and interactions. Such teachings may have influenced the development of this proverb, highlighting the need for justice before acts of generosity.


“Be just before you are generous” serves as a timeless reminder of the significance of justice and fairness in our lives. It encourages us to pause and evaluate our actions, ensuring that they are rooted in principles of equity and morality before extending generosity to others. By understanding and applying this proverb, we can strive for a more just and compassionate society, where generosity is meaningful and impactful because it is built upon a foundation of fairness and integrity.


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