Is it truly better to give than to receive?
Sometimes we receive far more than what is given.
(If Christmas commercialism is making you cynical, you may want to read this post!)
From the moment after that last bite of turkey on Thanksgiving, we are bombarded with messages to buy, buy, buy. There is a big difference, however, between rushing around in a buying frenzy trying to check people off a list, and really giving from the heart when opportunities arise – during the Christmas season or any time of year.
This holiday season, regardless of our cultural or religious background, we can all be thankful for what we have, and give to those less fortunate than ourselves in whatever ways we can. I recently found an amazing website called Ilikegiving.com. They feature stories on everyday people doing incredible acts of generosity, like this video where a young couple’s simple gesture becomes contagious and not only does it affect others, it begins changing their lives, as well. Watch this video and feel your heart swell as they tried their “experiment”.
Here’s another story about a woman who gives everything she has to a widow in need, and in the process loses her opportunity to replace her run down car. Then…gets a gift she never expected in a million years.
The original Secret Santa
I also found and posted to my Facebook page, an article about the original Secret Santa who started a movement with one small gesture. He was an out-of-work salesman who, through a stranger’s kindness, experienced being on the receiving end of someone truly giving from their heart. Years later, after becoming a millionaire, he never forgot that act of kindness and vowed to always pay it forward wherever he went, including going back to find that original giver and blessing him beyond belief.
Giving is cool!
Cool thing #1 about giving is that it’s contagious. Cool thing #2 is that so much of the time, the goodness and generosity you’ve blessed someone with comes right back to you! Best of all, giving doesn’t have to be a huge monetary item, but even the simplest gesture of “paying it forward” can start a cycle of generosity flowing in families, among friends, and in communities. The important thing is to try it. We can give of our time, our talents, and even give in the form of teaching, or even with a simple compliment.
Our Christmas Giving Bags
Being a single mom, my family doesn’t have much extra in the budget, so as an alternative, my son and I recently went through the house gathering up unused toiletry items (we had way more than I thought!) for a little experiment of our own. We found shampoos, soaps, baby powder, etc., and wrapped them in nice Christmas bags, then each day for a week we set out after school to look for people we could bless with our Christmas “giving bag” and a giant bottle of water. We drove around for a while, not knowing exactly who to choose, when we saw a shopping cart full to the top with what looked to be a homeless person’s belongings. Anonymously, we got out of the car, went over and placed a Christmas bag and a note right on top. It felt awesome. We thought about waiting for the person to return, but we were excited about the getting back in the car to look for another one, so off we went. It was kind of like a game of “Let’s see who we can bless next”.
The week went on with us giving our gifts and getting a variety of reactions. The best reaction, though, was my 16-year-old son’s heart beginning to warm up to the fact that it’s not always about what we can GET at Christmas. We always hear the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive”, and honestly, I found it kind of cliché myself, until I started doing things to really bring it to life. In the Bible, Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver. I truly think he enjoyed touching the few lives that we were able to touch during that week. Now we’re looking for more opportunities to be cheerful givers!
At a time of year when giving can sometimes feel more like an obligation than the privilege it really is, I encourage you to be a cheerful giver. I encourage you to try the giving and receiving experience yourself and see how feeling follows action. I encourage you be open to the opportunities that may come your way to give someone a brighter holiday. It’s very likely you’ll be blessed in return.
Some of my favorite quotes on giving:
“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.” ~ Ben Carson
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill
“Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.” ~ Brian Tracy
And of course, scripture is full of giving, too!
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. ~ Hebrews 13:16
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. ~ Ephesians 4:28
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. ~Deuteronomy 16:17
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. ~Matthew 6:3-4
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.’ ” ~ Acts 20-35
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. ~ Proverbs 11:24
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
~ 2 Corinthians 9:7
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ~ Hebrews 13:2