Happiness in giving


Happiness in giving


Sunday, December 22, 2019

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“There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving” (Acts 20:35).

WHILE a well-received gift often brings delight, no greater happiness trumps that which emanates from the act of giving.

Has that been your experience? No doubt, yes, since we have extended to many whom we love, throughout the course of our lives, a giving and helping hand — this has warmed our hearts. But such feeling, isn't it fleeting when we only give to the one who has given to us? Surely it is, for it would have been done out of compulsion and reciprocity.

Give me a gift, and I will give you one, therefore, seems to be the new norm in this old world. To the contrary, when we give, and we ask and expect nothing in return, we experience a truer and more lasting happiness — a key ingredient to overall health and wellness.

Giving: Greater than Christmas

The spirit of kindness and thanksgiving seem to be the focus at special times of the year, like Christmas. While, at this time, many good deeds are done and appreciated, the spirit of giving transcends the spirit of lore seen in Santa Claus or Father Christmas.

For those who value Christmas not for Santa's sake, but for the sake of the Christ, consider, if the Christ is really to be celebrated in Christmas then giving should be a part of our modus operandi, not just for a day or a season but all year round, since the Christ had no special time to give but gave of himself, time, energy and power to the greater cause of humanity. And again, a feat done with constancy.

Spontaneity defined giving by the Christ; and spontaneous giving never disappoints. The disappointment and mental anguish come when we set special times to give and receive, and they fail to materialise. The proverbial saying holds: “Expectation postponed makes the heart sick” (Pr 13:12). On the other hand, kindness is integral to the fruit of God's spirit (Gal 5:22-3), a force that should actuate our minds and impel us to practice a giving greater than Christmas — a giving that goes all year round.

Give to those who can't give to you

Jesus' advice, par excellence, at Luke 14:12-15 is this: “When you spread a dinner or evening meal, do not call your friends, or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours. Perhaps some time they might also invite you in return and it would become a repayment to you. But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.”

This advice was timeless, unbounded by seasons or special events. Clearly, Jesus was not throwing cold water on the warm display of familial bonds of love and kindness, but was teaching a lesson never to lessen giving to those who can't give to us, but to focus on a lesson larger than life in which a reward, a gift, awaits us — not by human hands but the very hands that have given us life and caused us to move and exist. Implicit in this lesson, too, is to give without fanfare, for “when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3).

Yes, be convinced that “the generous soul will be made fat” (prosperous), and worry not if you feel you are always the one giving, “[for] the one freely watering others will also himself be freely watered” (Pr 11:25).

Test out the advice of the Bible and “practice giving”, at different times of the year and to those who can't give to you, and see if “[other] people will [not] give to you” (Luke 6:38). You will feel a greater peace of mind and inner satisfaction that can only enhance your outlook, positively improve your mood, and boost overall well-being, knowing that, in giving, you are doing what is good.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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