By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
It is easy to put generosity on the back burner of our lives. Our plates can become so full that giving more of our time, money, or expertise can feel impossible!
That being said, there are some surprising benefits of being intentionally generous! Generous living can actually be the key to getting your cup filled up rather than being something that further depletes your resources. Somehow, like magic, pouring out the gifts and talents you have been gifted can actually help relieve some of the stress we carry in our lives.
I think this has been proven to be true by researchers because God said it to be so! In God’s Kingdom, we learn that the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16), which means that God honors those that humble themselves as servants.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The Bible illustrates this principle that we are called to be generous and cheerful givers! When we give freely, we also harvest abundance in our lives.
Here are five surprising benefits of generous living:
1. Generosity Lowers Our Stress Levels
Researchers decided to connect people to heart monitors and found that when people felt they were giving too little, their stress levels rose. When they gave generously, their stress levels stayed down. We have been created to be people who give of ourselves to others!
One of our core needs in life is to make an impact. When we are generous with our lives, we gain a sense of purpose that fulfills this core need.
Acts 20:35 says, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” The Bible informs us that there are benefits for the giver that are even superior to the joy that comes when we receive a great gift.
2. Generosity Improves Our Health
Health issues such as high blood pressure are major killers every year. Surprisingly, one study found that being generous helped to reduce blood pressure as much as medicine and exercise! It also lowers the risk of dementia, anxiety, depression, helps with chronic pain management, and more!
It can truly be a challenge to push ourselves to think past our own pain or health concerns. Yet, there can be healing power in the act of taking the focus off ourselves and giving to others. Our bodies respond when we take the mental focus off of our own needs and begin to focus on how we can help others.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 says, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
When we are generous, we are investing in a better future for ourselves and for our world. Not only are we sowing into God’s eternal Kingdom, but we are also investing in our own futures by acting in a way that benefits our minds, souls, and bodies.
3. Generosity Improves Your Relationships
When we create homes that are filled with a culture of generosity, our families thrive. In a study of generosity and how it impacts marriage, researchers found that both the one that received the generosity as well as the one that freely gave expressed high levels of marital satisfaction.
New love is usually filled with acts of generosity. We all think of those thoughtful flowers, handmade gifts, and the gift of an engagement ring is central to the progression of most budding romance stories. Gifts of affection, time, and things are all ways that we express our deep appreciation for each other. They are a huge part of keeping the spark alive in your marriage relationship.
Giving of yourself is also one of the most important ways that we raise securely attached children. When they are young, you give up your sleep, your freedom, and maybe your figure. As they grow, then we generously invest in their passions and spend time letting them know they are loved when we give up our time to be with them.
Family life requires the generous gift of daily self-sacrifice to meet the needs of our loved ones before meeting our own. There is so much joy to be had in investing in the people God has given you to love well. Your home is your first place of ministry and freely giving yourself away to those closest to you has eternal value.
4. Generosity Makes You Happier
Giving to others helps to boost our feel-good emotions. When we give, positive chemicals in our bodies such as endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin are released. This has been found to be true across cultural and economic lines. It is just part of how we were made.
Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” When we give, God promises to give back to us in abundance what we need to thrive. He wants our cups to be running over. It is out of his great provision of the joy and strength we need that we are able to freely give to others.
5. Generosity Extends Our Lives
All these benefits lead to a longer life expectancy! One study looked at 2,000 people and found that volunteering in some way dramatically reduced their mortality rate. People who volunteered for two or more causes had a 63% lower rate of mortality than those that did not.
Psalms 112:5 says, “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.” Blessings follow those of us who give of ourselves and of the resources we have been entrusted with.
Our lives are longer, richer, fuller, more joyful, connected, and meaningful when we live with generosity. God made us to be vessels that share God’s love through our actions. Giving away our gifts is the most tangible way that God’s love can be experienced in our communities, for both the giver and receiver.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/NoLiMiT_Bkk
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.