Archives for posts with tag: giving

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Seen on a billboard: “Live generously and life will reward you royally.” I don’t know what it had to do with the well-known brand of liquor it was advertising but I liked the slogan.

A recent Huffington Post blog reported that researchers have discovered that the area of the brain that is responsible for our cravings and pleasure rewards, lights up when we give to a charitable cause showing the link between charitable giving and pleasure. They assert that “this response to giving is the physiological reason behind the ‘warm glow’ or that good feeling you get when you give and why you may choose to spend money on others or charity compared to yourself.”

A couple of years ago the New Republic published an interview by Jordan Michael Smith with sociologists Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, authors of The Paradox of Generosity, which presents the findings of the Science of Generosity Initiative at Notre Dame. Researchers for the initiative surveyed 2,000 individuals over a five-year period. They interviewed and tracked the spending habits and lifestyles of 40 families from different classes and races in 12 states, even accompanying some to the grocery store.

 

The result is among the most comprehensive studies of Americans’ giving habits ever conducted. They concluded that people who are generous with their money are healthier and happier.

The sociologists believe that “it’s circular. The more happy and healthy and directed one is in life, the more generous one is likely to be. It works as an upwards spiral where everything works together, or it works sometimes as a downward spiral if people aren’t generous.”

These two reports agree that our brains seem to suggest that the joy of being a gift’s giver may eclipse that of being its recipient.”

Maybe that is what Jesus meant when He said “Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold” (Luke 6:38). It certainly affirms the words of the Apostle Paul that it is “more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I like the way The Message puts it: “You’re far happier giving than getting.”

Although we are happier and healthier when we give, the purpose of generosity is to benefit others. Tom Stoddard understands that we will give sacrificially for our children and those whom we love and he rightly states, “The trick in life is to take that sense of generosity between kin, make it apply to the extended family and to your neighbor, your village and beyond.”

Jamie Jenkins

 

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The season of Advent began last Sunday. It is a season that the Church has dedicated to preparing for the celebration of Christmas. The difference between Advent and Christmas is a small but important one. It’s no surprise that right after Thanksgiving we want to ask, “When can we sing Christmas songs?” But the question we must ask is: Are you ready to receive the one and only that God is sending our way?

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Advent is a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was introduced in the Christian church. It is believed that at some time in the fifth century it began as a six-week fast leading to Christmas. In the sixth century it was reduced to its current length of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas Day and the fasting was no longer observed.

Rev. Mark S. Roberts, a Presbyterian minister, reflected on Advent in the following manner: “In our secular American celebration of Christmas, the Christmas season (or holiday season, ugh) begins in the weeks prior to Christmas Day. Generally, this season starts in early December, though retailers have a bad habit of beginning Christmas in November (or even October)… So Advent overlaps with what is usually thought of in American culture as the Christmas season. But its beginning and ending are well defined, and its themes are quite a bit different from what is commonly associated with secular Christmas celebrations.”

Rev. Roberts goes on to say there are two primary reasons why Advent is important to him. He found “that observing Advent enriched my celebration of Christmas. Taking four weeks to focus on the hope of Christ’s coming made me much more joyful when I finally got to celebrate it. The more I got in touch with my need for a Savior, the more I rejoiced at the Savior’s birth.”

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In addition he found “in Advent a solution to the age-old problem of secular Christmas vs. spiritual Christmas… We (Christians) recognize that Christmas is, most of all, a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s a holiday that focuses on the meaning of the Incarnation. Yet, given the secular traditions of Christmas, we spend most of our time preparing, not for a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but for fulfilling the demands of the season.” Buying and wrapping presents, attending and hosting parties, traveling to visit relatives, sending out Christmas cards, and if you have younger children “spending hours trying to assemble gifts that come with sketchy instructions written by someone for whom English is, at best, a third language.”

The website, http://www.adventconspiracy.org, asks, “Can Christmas still change the world? The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and  relationship. So what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress, and debt?” Then it suggests four ways to change the way we celebrate Christmas.

ADVENT 1

Worship Fully

It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

ADVENT 2Spend Less

Quick question for you: What was the one gift you remember getting for Christmas last year? Next question: What about the fourth gift? Do you remember that one? Truth is many of us don’t because it wasn’t something we necessarily wanted or needed. Spending Less isn’t a call to stop giving gifts; it’s a call to stop spending money on gifts we won’t remember in less than a year. America spends around $600 billion dollars during the Christmas season, and much of that it joyless and goes right onto a credit card. By spending wisely on gifts we free ourselves from the anxiety associated with debt so we can take in the season with a full heart.ADVENT 3

Give More

I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, didn’t you just say I should spend less, and yet here you are telling me to give more? What gives?” The most powerful, memorable gift you can give to someone else is yourself. And nobody modeled this more than Jesus. So what does this look like for you? Tickets to a ball game or the theater? A movie night? The main point is simple: When it comes to spending time with those you love, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

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Love All

It all boils down to love. Love from a savior. Love to a neighbor in need. By spending just a little less on gifts we free up our resources to love as Jesus loves by giving to those who really need help. … It’s not that there’s something wrong with the shopping mall—it’s that the better story is about loving all.

It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many. We need to say yes to a different way of celebrating.

Jamie Jenkins

I thought I would never see it again but there it was. Gasoline under $2 a gallon. That is more than a dollar a gallon less than a year ago. Motorists are saving a lot of money but what are we doing with all the savings?

We can spend it, invest/save it, or give it away.

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“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver” (Ayn Rand). The same can be said of time. Both time and money are at our disposal. One might seem to have more than another but everyone has the option of how to use them.

Money can be used to acquire “things” that creates a false sense of security and value. Or it can be invested or saved for future needs and opportunities. And, of course, it can be a wonderful resource to assist others. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said it is wise to “get all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”

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One recent news story reported that with the cheaper gasoline prices many motorists were opting to buy bigger automobiles that get less mileage per gallon than the smaller cars they currently own. In other words, they have chosen to spend the savings provided by the lower fuel costs.

A person might receive a bonus at work or an unexpected gift comes their way. The first thought may be to remember Benjamin Franklins famous saying, “A penny saved is a pent earned’ and they put those extra funds to work for them in any variety of investment or saving opportunities.

Saving 5Then there is the other option for your “savings.” You can give it away. Most folks don’t have to look very far see places to make a contribution to someone in need or to a church or other reputable charitable organization. It has been said “if you always, give you will always have.”

In a commencement address at Vassar College, Stephen KIng, the celebrated author whose books have sold over 350 million copies, said, “I give because it is the only concrete way of saying that I am glad to be alive… Giving…[puts our focus] back where it belongs- on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities which nurture us.”

The Bible says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:38).

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The money we have, whether saving or earnings, can be used in a variety of ways. Lord, teach us to manage the resources wisely.

 

 

Jamie Jenkins