Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Colossians 3:10, NLT)
Many spiritual disciplines have been named and practiced by theologians, saints and philosophers over the millennia but these words from Jesus speak to the true core of how God made us.
Twenty-first century scientists are finally proving St. Francis of Assisi right when he wrote, “For it is in giving that we receive.” (See Dr. Al’s feature on the healing power of altruism, page 20.) Francis discovered a basic truth that dramatically changed the path of his life: God wired us to enjoy giving. In fact, Francis loved giving so much that he gave away everything. Could he have found the generosity of Jesus so compelling that it changed him at his core and set him free of earthly possessions? Jesus can do the same for us.
Listen to Him: “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38); “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8); “Give to everyone who asks you…” (Luke 6:30). Christ knows how the things of this world can shackle us and pull us away from God. Giving is the key for those shackles and sets us free.
That which we treasure shows us what we love. What we value most holds the deepest connection to who we are. Jesus treasured us most of all—so much that He gave His life to make us His brothers and sisters. He showed us how to unlock the door of true happiness: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
Jesus knew 2,000 years ago what today’s scientific community is just beginning to prove—God created us to be generous—which makes Jesus’ teaching even more relevant. Researchers have found that one simple act of helping gave individuals “better self-esteem, more self-confidence, and less depression than those who did not” (“Biological Benefits of Giving Come to Light in Study by Jorge Moll,” June 28, 2018, Gazette Day, gazetteday.com). This may seem like a small thing to discover but connecting physical changes in the human brain, as seen through functional magnetic resonance imaging, offers credence to the altruistic theories of many great philosophers… AND the message of the Gospel.
The omnipotent Creator embedded His own generous heart into our DNA in such a magnificent and intimate way that it is evidenced by our very brain chemistry. It took years of dedicated research by a prominent neuroscientist and his team to finally unveil this biological connection to our Creator.
By mirroring God’s generosity, we become God-confident instead of self-confident and forge a path of trust based on gratitude. Giving makes us better human beings and deepens our faith, whether we realize it or not. As Christ-followers, we recognize that Jesus perfected the discipline of “giving it all away” to a divine level. During His lifetime, He saw the needs of others and intentionally gave that which made them whole.
By intentional giving we, too, can become whole and grow in the grace of generosity. Be sure to read all the features on giving in this issue; a generous heart evokes an attitude of gratitude that allows us to more accurately mirror our Savior.
by RJ Flower-Opdycke
When we give…
- We loosen the hold that our accumulated stuff has on us. We keep our possessions from possessing us.
- We lighten more than our purse; we also lighten our hearts.
- We allow some of God’s abundance that He gave TO us to flow THROUGH us, thereby fulfilling part of God’s plan for us.
- We practice the twin disciplines of gratitude and trust, recognizing that everything belongs to God and comes from God, and that we can trust God to take care of us in the future just as He has in the past.
- We see the neighbor and the stranger, the oppressed and the needy, as our brother and sister.
- We release into the world the antidote for healing the poisons of greed and fear that grips so many in our culture.