One day in high school French, Madame VanderZanden began class by telling us a story. She said that her favorite question to ask little kids this time of year was, “What are you giving for Christmas?” She said that inevitably, kids jump into reciting a long list of toys they’re hoping for, showing their excitement and belief in Santa and all he would bring.
She would nod and listen, waiting for them to finish and then would ask, “No….What are you giving for Christmas?” This always brought looks of confusion and then much thought. But she said, if she waited for it patiently, their little faces would light up a second time before they started spilling ideas of what they could make for their parents and do for their friends. She said that their excitement for giving equaled their excitement for getting.
This month in Rising Soul, we’re deep-diving into the topics of
gratitude and generosity…
These two things which are tightly intertwined. We’re practicing generosity in unlikely ways and capturing the moments that we want to remember–reflecting the stories of how God blesses us daily.
Acts 20:35 says it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Sociology says so too. A 2014 study at Notre Dame, involving 2000 people, showed that those who described themselves as “very happy” volunteered an average of 5.8 hours per month, compared to the .6 average of those who self-identified as “unhappy.” The study showed that there was a catch to this happiness…those who fit the category of “very happy” were more than just occasionally generous. Generosity was a way of life for them, and it didn’t just encompass one area —such as finances, but also with time and hospitality.
If you google the benefits of generosity, you’ll get a wonderful overload of lists, studies, and articles. So why then, aren’t more people generous? Sociologist Christian Smith (who authored the book The Paradox of Generosity, which presents the findings of the above study) says that he believes it’s fear that makes people less generous than we could be, fearing that by giving to others, we would have less and suffer a loss.
Generosity is a barometer of our faith and trust in God.
It’s for this very reason that I say that generosity is a barometer of our faith and trust in God. When you know God as your generous Father and Provider who loves you and takes care of you well, you know that you can’t out-give Him. When we realize that all we have has been given to us by God, and then bless others as a response to being blessed, something happens that goes against the philosophy of this world. It’s like a parent who’s expecting a new baby. They can’t imagine how they could possibly love another child as much as the one they already have. And yet, when they meet that new little being, the love they had is not divided by the two children, but instead doubled. Expanded. It grows.
We can’t manipulate God to get what we want.
This isn’t a slot-machine mentality. God isn’t fooled and the state and intentions of your heart matter to Him. He loves a cheerful giver. Greed is not part of this equation. He does not provide for us so that we can “store up all our earthly wealth” or live a comfy and luxurious life. So why does He provide for us?
1. It pleases Him and brings Him joy. (Hebrews 13:16)
2. To generate even more gratitude and generosity. (2Corinthians 9:11)
3. To bless others. (2 Corinthians 9:8-11)
The Bible has a lot to say about God taking our “little” and turning it into “a lot.” –Not for our benefit, but to benefit those around us. With that said, it’s also true that when we bless others, we GET the blessing of that experience.
“The greatest blessing in the whole world is being a blessing.” Jack Hyles
I’m guessing you spend little time thinking about what you’ll get for Christmas, and lots of time planning out what you’ll give. (Because…well…that’s part of adulting.) But this year, I challenge you to think outside the box. How what can you give besides material things that can be multiplied by God to bless others? Each year, one of my favorite items on our to do list is is selecting a gift for my parents (who insist they are down-sizing and want nothing!) from the World Vision catalogue. Did you know you can buy a safe bike ride to school for a girl in high-trafficking countries, or business training for a single mom, or clean drinking water for a community? I get so excited thinking about those people being blessed and I feel blessed by the thought of it!
After four years of French class, I can barely parle français. But Madame VanderZanden was certainly on to something, and I’m grateful for her lesson.
Give yourself a gift this Christmas that will help you give to others!
Join the Rising Soul membership wait list and get ready to come on board with us when doors open again on January 1st! We focus on sharing our blessings with others on a regular ongoing basis!