It’s more blessed to give than to receive…Really?
We’re all familiar with this saying of Jesus…but how many of us actually believe it? Too many of us, afraid of being doormats, pull back and would rather not be a giver. It’s understandable. There are many users out there and we’ve been hurt by them. Not only do we not want to get hurt again, we don’t want to enable them to use us. That’s prudent.
So what is Jesus referring to? Do we take it at face value? Does it mean we need to feel guilty when we receive…or when we have hopes and expectations? Well yes, we should take it at face value…in the overall scheme of life we experience more joy when we give. And if that’s the case, if we don’t learn how to receive and appreciate gifts from God and from others, we would thwart the joy others should receive when they give to us. So being a cheerful receiver is equally important.
Two things occur to me about the benefits of giving. First, since God is the Giver of all good things when we give we become more like God. We participate in the Divine life of the Trinity. We bring God’s love into the world and help others believe in Him and His goodness.
Second, when we put a higher bounty on giving than receiving, we are more in control of our own happiness. Sure, it’s ok to hope for good from those we love, but if we make that a condition of our happiness, we can often feel disappointed and impotent to find real joy. Focusing more on what we want to receive rather than what we would like to give closes us in on ourselves.
When disappointment comes your way, when you feel down and depressed, when life feels out of control, that may be the time to switch your focus to giving. It puts you back in the driver’s seat. Even small acts of kindness or prayers offered for strangers will have you climbing out of your darkness and into the light.
Think about that as you make your way through this Advent season to the joy of Christmas.
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