Giving Can Be Painful!

giving“Give until it feels good”. How many times have you heard that? Do you believe it?

Reality is giving can be a major burden. For Jesus it was a pain all over not just in one part of his body. There always were people who would take as much as he would give. Nevertheless he gave and for good reason.

First, he loved. He did not love just a little. He loved a lot. When you really love someone, you ache to give, right? We do not always love people who will love us back. Children of alcoholics and physical abusers often marry someone just like their parent even though they should know better. But, when you love someone it is very difficult not to give to him or her.

One of the best known verses in the Bible, John 3:16, tells us the reason Jesus was willing to die on the cross for those who loved him and those who did not. He loved each of us–a lot.

Second, because he knew it would bring joy. “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” Crucifixions were not uncommon. Jesus knew what was waiting on the cross. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for another way. There was none, so Jesus gave. He gave what it took to free us from slavery to sin and death, his life, not just the time or money he could spare to assist a noble cause.

God is a giver and creates us to be givers, also. We are created in his image, an image that includes loving and consequently giving. It should come as no surprise that research supports the conclusion that the act of giving may be hardwired in our brain, like eating or sleeping. A study with toddlers published this month in the Public Library of Science journal, PLOS ONE, found when a child gave their own treat to a puppet, “they registered greater happiness than when they alone received the treats.”

Give. It may make you feel good. It may cause pain. It will bring joy. Although joy is related to happiness and pleasure, it is different. It is a state of being rather than a fleeting feeling. Jesus thought it was worth dying for. Maybe the real question is not how much we are willing to give, but how much joy we desire to live in.

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