Over the weekend, I joined a small outreach team for a simple compassion project: hand deliver five dozen roses to moms in the community in honor of Mother's Day. Though simple in effort, the project was significant in impact. After gifting about four dozen of our supply at a senior living apartment, we strolled through downtown Castle Rock with these floral tokens of love in hand. We approached a pair of ladies chatting away on a bench, and as it dawned on them what we were giving them and for what reason, their expressions of surprise were coupled with tears. As one of the ladies explained between joyful sobs, "You have no idea how much this means to us right now. We were just talking about how we probably wouldn't even hear from our children this Mother's Day."
Our errand of simple compassion didn't take much effort, and it didn't take much time. But as we gathered back at the parking lot, one of our team members thoughtfully reflected, "We came here to give something, but I feel like I'm the one getting something today."
Have you ever experienced that? Maybe you know what it's like to be in the position of the giver, the one supplying someone else's need. But somehow, in the midst of that giving experience, your heart's cup is filled to the brim. Maybe the people you interact with on a mission trip teach you a thing or two about how to live joyful lives although you're the missionary sent to bless them. Or maybe it's just that the act of giving generates a sense of pure satisfaction that no self-serving thrill or indulgence can truly match. Whatever the circumstances or context, one thing is consistent:
OUR GIVING IS NOT JUST OUR GIFT TO OTHERS BUT IS IN FACT A GIFT TO OURSELVES.
Don't worry about trying to spin generosity to be self-centered endeavor. We don't give in order to get something out of it. That's transactional. But when we invest ourselves in the kind of giving that is sacrificial and others-centered, we find ourselves experiencing a joy that really is a gift, not something we earn or deserve. While dozens of Scriptures could be referenced, let me just share a couple that point to this very principle.
The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself. Proverbs 11:25, NKJV
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38, NIV
The wisdom of both the Old and New Testaments express this principle of generosity. Whether we give time, effort, money, attention, possessions, roses, or whatever it may be, our open-handedness and large-heartedness generates a benefit and blessing not only to the recipient but also to the giver. Why? I believe it's because giving aligns with and expresses heaven's principles. When we truly live as God designed us to live, we'll find that we're living the best possible life, the most satisfying and joyful life. When God desires us to give and be generous, to invest our lives in the lives of others, it's not because He's trying to limit our fun or restrict our freedoms. No, it's because He understands what leads to unlimited joy. After all, Jesus is the One who came "that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn. 10:10, NIV).
Though it goes against the grain of our naturally selfish, greedy hearts, it's my prayer that we all would experience the joy that's found in participating in the principles of self-giving love that set God apart as the great Giver and not the great taker and joy-kill that Satan often makes Him out to be. May we recognize the opportunities all around us to give rather than guard or keep and actually choose to give because we've been given to. May we find that it's living for others and giving to others that really makes life worth living.