Cultivate Generosity

Maybe it’s slightly redundant to talk about generosity within hours of our Christmas celebration. I mean this is the season when absolutely everyone goes out of their way to give cheerfully, right? The red kettles get stocked (as it were) for the coming year. Charities receive significant donations before year’s end.

SantasFactoryPerhaps you’re familiar with the Bible passage that quotes Jesus telling his followers:  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In this particular passage, the Apostle Paul speaks of the moral imperative to help the weak. The blessings of Christmas are best when shared and whether it’s helping at a soup kitchen or delivering a meal to a shut-in, our generosity tends to return to us as a greater blessing.

There’s a beautiful picture of generosity Paul mentions in two chapters (8 and 9) of Second Corinthians. He applauds churches located in Macedonia that had extremely limited resources but they had learned the joy of rich generosity in spite of their humble means. He writes (in 8:2) of their “extreme poverty.” He also cautions (in 9:6) that those “who sow sparingly will also reap sparingly” and likewise one who sows generously reaps the same.

A recent book, The Paradox of Generosity, provides insight into a five-year research study that confirms Paul’s observations from scripture. The book’s tagline, Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose, sums up what the research revealed. The authors view generosity as paradox because they found generous people enjoy greater happiness, have fewer illnesses and feel a keener sense of purpose and fulfillment. On the other hand, those who are less generous suffer from higher levels of anxiety and live with diminished purpose.

These observations are striking (to me) and as we anticipate the celebration of Christmas over the next couple days, I’m reminded how God’s lavish and unreserved generosity has been significant in my life. God’s willingness to come to earth … to demean Himself by taking on human flesh though He existed as Almighty God … reminds me how much He gave – to me!

Wesley-generosity_2Giving generously is such a huge thing. When we emulate God’s generosity, it builds within us a desire to give more, to keep giving, and that’s where our personal fulfillment and meaning get a boost.

Think about it this Christmas. It’s always fun to receive gifts, especially things you didn’t expect. But selfless giving … that’s where we enjoy the richer, deeper blessings. That’s when we know the Truth, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

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