What does it mean to be a generous person? Generosity is defined as the spirit and action of freely and frequently giving to others.
During this season of giving – as we contemplate our own pledge to the church for the coming year – we’re exploring how we’ve been called to be generous in our lives of faith. After all, Jesus talked about generosity often in his parables and sermons.
Did you know that giving is actually good for you? There’s science to back this idea up! Studies have shown that giving of your time, your talent and your treasure benefits the giver in multiple ways:
• Giving makes us feel happy; it actually activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure and releases endorphins which improve our sense of well-being.
• Giving is good for our health. It’s been shown to lessen stress, a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease, and other conditions.
• And giving is contagious. Think about our pay it forward campaign from a few years ago and the people who picked up on the idea and did something similar.
But don’t just take science’s word for it. Listen to what your fellow church members have to say about how giving has positively affected their lives.
Kirke Ryder says that being generous – whether it be through the giving of his time, money or expertise – makes him feel happier because he knows he’s helping make the world be a better place. He says he finds it very rewarding, pointing to his support of Feed My Starving Children for the past nine years. Knowing that he’s helped feed countless children and turned their lives around for the better is a feeling of joy that Kirke says can’t be matched.
Judy Knutzen-Nerad knows that exact same feeling. She says being generous gives her tremendous joy because she knows she’s making a difference in someone else’s life. Even more than the tangible gift being given, Judy believes it’s the love the person feels that’s the real benefit, knowing that someone cares and that they are not alone in their time of need.
Even the smallest among us understands this joy. Loni McCormick’s granddaughter Grace recently gave her a gift of love that warms both their hearts. Grace spent an entire afternoon drawing Loni a picture, and then cutting it up into little pieces and placing them in a Valentine box. Grace wanted Loni to have all those little pieces of her artwork because she knew they would make Grandma happy and show how much she loved her. The box sits on Loni’s headboard, quietly awaiting the next gift of specialness from Grandma’s sweet girl.
In economic terms, giving means we have less than what we started with, but science, the Bible and our fellow church members teach us that when we give to others, we gain. In Acts chapter 20, verse 35 we hear the words of Jesus who said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” This heartwarming quote reminds us that giving to the church to help us fulfill our mission can bring a great sense of fulfillment and joy to the giver.
The story of Jesus’ ministry is filled with examples of generosity. Jesus sets a high standard of giving and caring for others. As we learn how to adopt gestures of generosity, let us continue to look to Jesus as the ultimate expression of generosity and sacrifice.