By Randy Alcorn, in his December 2, 2019 blog at: http://www.epm.org
In my book Giving Is the Good Life, I tell the story of ten-year-old Riley and how she experienced the happiness of giving. A few years ago, while shopping online for a bike as a present for her dad, Riley and her mom followed a video link about an organization that provides specially engineered bicycles for individuals with disabilities. Seeing the happy faces of people riding the bikes, Riley told her mom, “I’m going to buy a bike for one of those kids.”
Riley’s mom loved her daughter’s heart, but the cost of just one special bike was a few thousand dollars. Two days later, Riley showed her mom a letter she’d written explaining how the bikes could help those in need and requesting donations.
After Riley sent the letter to seventy-five relatives and friends, money started pouring in. Word spread, and as Christmas neared, more donations came. On Christmas, Riley donned a Santa hat and delivered bicycles to three girls: thirteen-year-old Ava, who has spina bifida; fifteen-year-old Jenny, who has cerebral palsy; and four-year-old Rose, who has a rare genetic disorder.
“This is the best Christmas I ever had,” Riley declared.
She ultimately raised enough to pay for seven bikes, each given to a grateful recipient.
Riley says that when she rides her bicycle with one of the girls she gave a bike to, “I like to go fast, get sweaty, and feel the breeze. . . . So does Ava. She pumps with her arms, not her feet, but she really flies.”
We instinctively imagine that spending on ourselves will make us happiest. But as Riley discovered, our greatest joy comes when we give to others. It really is true what Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35, GNT). You might have heard that verse translated “It is more blessed to give than receive,” but the well-documented fact is that the Greek word makarios here, translated “blessed,” really means “happy” or “happy-making.”
Notice what Jesus did not say: “Naturally, we’re happier when we receive than when we give, but giving is a duty, so grit your teeth, make the sacrifice, and force yourself to give.”
Money won’t make us happy, but giving away money can make us profoundly happy. When we give out of love for Christ and others, we experience dramatic and lasting returns for the investments we’ve made—far more than if we’d kept or spent it. Therefore, it’s not only receivers who come out ahead—it’s givers, too.
“Is not the festive season when families and friends exchange gifts in memory of The Gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race, the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from abounding riches to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth?” —Lottie Moon (missionary)
Acts 20:34-35 — (Paul said), “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.’ ”
I Timothy 6:17-19 — Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
II Corinthians 9:6-9 — Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
Make us always eager, Lord, to share the good things that we have. Grant us such a measure of your Spirit that we may find more joy in giving than in getting. Make us ready to give cheerfully without grudging, secretly without praise, and in sincerity without looking for gratitude, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
–John Hunter, Scottish pastor (1849-1917)