Perhaps the most gratifying experience this Christmas was watching my son Judah give Christmas presents to his siblings. Weeks before Christmas, Judah was busy shopping online with his mother’s assistance, looking for the most ridiculously huge lego sets he could find to give to his brother Noah and sister Stella.
In typical Judah fashion, he didn’t just ‘go big’ on the size of the lego sets. He ‘went big’ on the price, too! Between birthday money, allowance and funds he earned from doing odd jobs, Judah somehow managed to save a small fortune over the past year. He kept the money well secured in a large, gallon-size plastic bag in his top dresser drawer.
Without any thought for his own financial well-being, he bought his siblings the kinds of gifts he himself would dream of receiving. These were gifts Judah knew would not only surprise the recipients but would overwhelm them with joy and happiness.
For the weeks leading up to the big day, I didn’t know if Judah would be able to keep the gifts a secret. He could barely contain his excitement.
In the end, my most enjoyable experience on Christmas day was watching Judah hand his siblings their massive presents while bouncing up and down excitedly watching them open their gifts. It reminded me of when the Apostle Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders encouraging them to remember “the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, 'There is more happiness in giving than in receiving’" Acts 20:35 (GNT).
It turns out that Jesus knew what he was talking about. There really is more happiness in giving than in receiving. Or as some versions say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
In a recent article on studyfinds.org, author Terra Marquette analyzed data from two studies published in Psychological Science and conducted by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Upon review of the two studies, Marquette noted that “The joy of having our own desires met is always fleeting. Perhaps surprisingly, however, giving to others creates a more lasting happiness.”
It seems that even science attests to the truthfulness of Jesus’ words: giving is better than receiving. If that be true, then we are most like Jesus and most obedient to Him when we give. And no matter how much money you have or how old you are, we can all get in on the joy of Christmas by giving our time, our gifts, our resources and ourselves.
Seth Hankee has served in pastoral ministry at Greenmonte Fellowship since 2004 and has a passion to see the church equipped for Kingdom ministry. Nothing excites him more than to see people recognize their identity and purpose in Christ and begin living that out.