Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35, ESV)
I want you to ponder those words for a moment. What do they mean to you?
It is more blessed to give than it is to receive!
Do you practice that? Does your checkbook represent that? Does your calendar reflect that?
I imagine that many of us are more into getting than giving. We may say it is more blessed to give than receive. It is the right thing to say. But deep down, what do we believe in our hearts?
If the key to happiness was getting, then we would all be much happier people. But we don’t see much happiness. Often the most depressed people are the ones who have the most stuff. But we keep straining and striving for more and more. We are convinced that just a little bit more will make us happy.
We have been so indoctrinated. We have been made to believe it is more blessed to receive. We live in America that is the richest nation in the history of the world. It has been instilled in us over and over that the path to happiness is the accumulation of stuff. He who has the most will be the happiest!
A recent study showed how much money a person would need to make to be happy in some of America’s largest cities. I live just outside New York City and the study reported that you would need to make $220,000 to be happy living here. But the flaw with that headline is the assumption that it is the things we have is what makes us happy.
The reality is if you are not happy with what you already have, you will never be happy with what you don’t have. Winning the lottery does not make people happy. Getting a car at Christmas with a bow on top does not make people happy. Sure they may be happy at the moment. They are ecstatic. But if they don’t have joy before receiving a great gift, the momentary happiness at the moment will not last.
Our possessions end up possessing us. Think about the cost of ownership. The cost is much more than the sticker price of a given item. Consider a car. You buy a car. There is the cost of the car. But there is also the cost of insurance, registration, gas, maintenance, and more. Beyond the monetary cost is the cost of your time. You need to take time to get that oil change. There is also a mental cost. The more we add to our lives, the more it adds to the things of which we need to keep track. The mental clutter grows.
Most people doubt the joy of giving. If we truly believed it to be true, we would give so much more. We would spend less and give more. What will convince us that it is more blessed to give than to receive?
The challenge when it comes to giving is that it is not something that can be reasoned. We have been too well indoctrinated in consumerism. Giving is not an intellectual matter. I could give the finest sermon or write the greatest blog post on why you should give, but that would never convince you. I could have many well-reasoned points, but that will not change your mind.
The motivation to give is ultimately a matter of the heart and a matter of faith. We may not understand it. We may not think that it will work. But when we take that step of faith, we experience the joy of giving.
This week we will be talking more about how Christmas is for giving. We will look at not only the why but the how. We will also consider how our traditional ways of giving may not necessarily be Biblical nor benefical.
- How have you experienced the joy of giving?
- What is the biggest challenge to your giving?
Lord, the giver of every good thing, all we have comes from you. Help us to be be good stewards of all that you have put in our hands. Give us a spirit of generosity to give in faith with the confidence that you will abundantly supply all we need and more. In Jesus’ name. Amen!