There’s not one of us that doesn’t like getting things. Christmas morning, waking up and going to see what’s in that brightly colored box with our name on it under the tree. On our birthday, getting gifts from friends and loved ones – just because we’ve aged a year. A surprise gift when there’s no special reason. Even people that don’t need anything like to receive things – Oprah; rich entertainers at annual awards shows, the President.
And our society teaches one of the secrets to happiness and security is accumulating stuff. We even spend money on insurance to make sure we don’t lose it – or at least are able to replace it. Years ago someone summed it up with this slogan: “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
So if the presumed key is to get things and hang onto them with all of our might, what’s with the biblical adage even people who’ve never read the Bible can repeat: “It is more blessed to give than receive”?
Yes, unlike “God helps those that help themselves” – which is found nowhere in the Scriptures – this admonition about giving actually is there. As the apostle Paul declared, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:35).
This, as I noted several posts back, is another of the seeming paradoxes of biblical faith. In our materialistic culture, it might even be the greatest paradox of all. How can we gain if we choose to give away? How can you increase when you’re busy decreasing what you possess? But this principle is there, just the same. And it’s frequently reaffirmed.
Speaking to a large crowd of people gathered around Him, Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38).
He was saying then – and still says today – if we give, freely and generously from the heart, we’ll not lack for anything. God will more than supply what we need. There’s one caveat: Our giving should be without reservation.
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).
But it’s more than being assured if we give to help others in whatever way we’re impressed to do so, we’ll not be left destitute ourselves. There’s the intangible joy and fulfillment we receive in being used as an instrument for assisting others in need.
I’ve experienced this not only in giving money and goods, but in investing time and energy in mentoring others, helping them to grow professionally, personally and spiritually, and being a resource for them as they work through various problems and issues in their lives. Volunteering in other ways can provide the same sense of gratification.
In fact, this giving of ourselves is probably the greatest of all forms of giving. We might not all have the same incomes, bank accounts or portfolios, but we all have just 24 hours a day, seven days a week. How we use that time is a strong indicator of whether we’re self-focused or others-oriented.
The same holds true for God, the greatest giver of all. John 3:16, which most of us are at least somewhat familiar with, states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That is the consummate definition of giving.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.