“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16)
The “G” Word
Let’s talk about giving. More specifically, let’s talk about financial giving! Please don’t run. This is important! So much of scripture uses financial language to describe Jesus’ love for us, and work on the cross. When we talk about generosity, it’s important for us to begin by remembering what the ultimate depiction of generosity is… Jesus exchanging His life for us, so that we can not only live eternally but also have access to the most mind-blowing inheritance we could ever imagine. He actually calls us heirs (Romans 8:17). I once heard someone say, “God bankrupted heaven for us!” This means that the most valuable thing that heaven had was used to clear our debts and buy us back.
Roman’s 6:23- “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 7:23- “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”
Compared to what Jesus did, our struggle to give $20 to a homeless person, our stingy Sunday afternoon tipping habits at restaurants, and our unwillingness to raise our hands to sponsor a child with a monthly commitment seems to pale in comparison. As I read on one pastor’s post this past week, “Don’t complain about tithing and then come into church on Sunday with a venti Starbucks drink.” Many of us have done this (I know I have). When was the last time I went through the drive-through and offered to pay for the person behind me? When was the last time I contributed to a “go-fund me” to help someone in need? We were not made to live incongruently, but when we do not give out of the abundance we have been given, we are failing to display good stewardship of our finances… but more importantly, we are failing to display good stewardship of the love of Christ!
Physical Health and Giving
Scott Bea, PsyD of Cleveland Clinic contributed to an article entitled “Wanna Give? This Is Your Brain on a ‘Helper’s High.’ Studies document how giving affects your body”
Did you read that last part? Giving has a measurable, scientific impact on your physical health!
In his article, he stated “Studies find these health benefits associated with giving: Lower blood pressure, Increased self-esteem, Decreased depression, Lower stress levels, Longer life, Greater happiness.” Apart from financial giving, we can of course also offer our time, social support, and energy. These are equally important and this study showed that supportive interactions with others also helped people to recover quickly from coronary-related events. But this next part about financial giving is fascinating:
“There is evidence that, during gift-giving behaviors, humans secrete “feel good” chemicals in our brains, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical). When researchers from the National Institutes of Health looked at the functional MRIs of subjects who gave to various charities, they found that giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, which is the reward center in the brain — releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.” And like other highs, this one is addictive, too.”
In other words, your brain can’t tell the difference between a prescription or illicit drug that increases your brain’s “feel good” chemicals, and the act of giving. As far as it’s concerned, it’s the same thing. Of course, I know that I am grossly over-simplifying here, but you get it. When we give, our body experiences health benefits. When we are financially generous, our brain experiences pleasure.
Generosity as a lifestyle
We are good at giving around the holidays, birthdays, and other times of celebration (as we should be!) But, let’s choose to increase our giving back to God. Let’s serve and honor Him by loving “the least of these” with our money. Let’s find ways to be a “good Samaritan” and practice “shirt off your back” kind of love.
At Cornerstone, we recognize the wide-ranging benefits of charitable giving and want you to partner with us in our “Water4” fundraiser (https://water4.org/cornerstone)! We are celebrating 10 years here and want to be generous and sow into the Kingdom as a way to mark and commemorate all that He has done for us. Their mission is this: “Using faith, innovation and empowerment to re-imagine a world free from the water crisis.” Be on the lookout for our monthly newsletter, which will detail steps to give. Please pray about this!
“If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded” (Matthew 10:42)