The Life-Giving Power of Generosity

Olivia Making a DonationProverbs 11:25-
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

It’s a human tendency to self-protect and hold onto things we might need in the future.  From a survival standpoint, holding on to resources just makes sense.  After all, if one has more…fill in the blank…he’ll be better able to enjoy life or take care of himself down the road. 

Fortunately, the truth of generosity is much more paradoxical and freeing than the simple logic of self-preservation.  

We read in the Bible that “he who seeks to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for Christ’s sake will gain it.”  The idea that self-sacrifice, or the giving of one’s self, is essential for life is central to Jesus’ message.  Today, many people have expounded upon this truth with messages about positive thinking, “paying it forward,” etc.  

While generosity certainly isn’t a tool for getting what one wants, it is a way of life that resonates with who we were created to be as humans.

Thankfully, what resonates with our purpose as humans is almost always good for our bodies.  And while we really didn’t need anyone to tell us that giving to others makes us “feel good,” a number of scientific studies have found that the “good feelings” that result from sacrificially giving to others translate into significant health benefits.  

One of those studies looked at 423 elderly couples over 5 years to determine what factors most highly affected their well-being.  The individuals who reported regularly giving tangible help to their family members, friends and neighbors had a 50% lower death rate than those who didn’t!  Research obtained in the making of a documentary about longevity (sponsored by National Geographic) further confirmed the importance of generosity to health, as one of the things the longest living people have in common is a sense of purpose and importance in the lives of others.  

So, while it might seem counter-intuitive that giving sacrificially to others would be good for one’s health, the truth of generosity is backed by the reality of good health. We were created to love, to give, and to be involved in the lives of others.  

References: Philanthropy Across Generations, The Creation-Based Keys to Longevity

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Originally posted 2013-08-02 09:01:01.

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