Five Ways Giving is Good for You
Article by Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie
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There is a remarkable amount of research on how giving affects others. As it turns out, giving not only benefits those who receive, it also benefits those who give as well as the entire community! So, when you come back from volunteering and feel that you received more than you gave, you are actually being scientifically accurate.

Pastors can use this research alongside scripture to show how giving benefits the whole community and to explain the positive personal benefits many givers report after serving and giving to others. It can also be used to challenge the self-centeredness of Western culture with the self-giving attitude of Jesus.

“New studies attest to the benefits of giving—not just for the recipients but for the givers’ health and happiness, and for the strength of entire communities.”

-Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie

What to Consider

  • What positive benefits have you experienced or witnessed from giving (of your resources, time, etc.)? What was the act of giving that precipitated it?
  • Are there times when it might not be beneficial for a person to give? In those situations, what  negative consequences might arise for the person who gives? For the person who receives? For the community?
  • What is the role of motivation in the act of giving? Is giving selfless and altruistic if done for the personal benefit of the giver (personal happiness, establishing social connections, tax write-off, etc.)? If the receiver and community benefit, does the motivation of the giver matter?

How to Go Deeper

  • Read Deuteronomy 15 and consider the command to Israel to take care of the needy and marginalized in their midst. Use this research on giving to show how these acts benefited Israel as a whole. Explore ideas about analogous acts of giving that congregants can do in their own communities. Be prepared to discuss if you church has lived up to this command.
  • Acts 2:42-47 is a snapshot of how the early church took care of its community. Share this research with the congregation to demonstrate how selflessness and acts of giving develop cohesiveness amongst a community and encourage others in the community to give selflessly. Allow time for self reflection as congregants contemplate the ways they are taking care (or failing to take care) of their own community.
  • Matthew 6:1-4 suggests that those who give publicly already have received their reward, while those who give in secret will be rewarded by God. Reflect upon this research and the personal and communal benefits of giving to others. Invite congregants to think about stories about giving in secret or in public and the different ways it affected the giver, receiver, and the community.

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

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By | 2017-07-27T20:17:30+00:00 May 22nd, 2016|Giving, Research|9 Comments

About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

9 Comments

  1. matt@ncstudycenter.org March 18, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing this article. I saw recently that Pope Francis encouraged Christians to always give to those in need, without regard for how the money will be spent:http://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/02/28/pope-francis-says-give-homeless-dont-worry-about-how-they-spend-it-lent

    This is not usually my natural inclination/line of reasoning; does anyone else have thoughts about Pope Francis’ position?

    • AustinF May 19, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      I would say that the majority of our giving now can be well informed through specific charities and organizations (for example: CPC, Samaritan Center, etc.). Spontaneous giving is probably a healthy practice for any Christian, but there is a huge reality that many homeless/poor (at least in my area of So Cal) choose the lifestyle purposefully. I don’t think it’s as black and white as Frank says it is. I guess my point is that giving should probably be somewhat informed but not as an excuse to avoid charity.

  2. Weabz April 4, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Matt, my thoughts on the Pope’s position on giving is twofold really. First, and biblically speaking I can appreciate the sentiment to give not worrying how the money will be spent. However, with that being said, I believe we must give as the Lord leads trusting the discernment of the Spirit and trusting the provision and resources to the Lord as they are truly His, they are NOT our own.

    Second, and more contentious is the idea of social justice and how the church can too often get lost in the idea of it citing passages about taking care of the sojourner and the like, coming from the OT. And I agree we should care for all people and provide when able and minister as we are gifted. However, the problem is we too often as Christian’s “live out the Gospel” or “walk in love”, both of which are good things. And yet that isn’t enough. We are called to love no doubt, but as believers we are called to preach the Gospel, that requires us not to just love people like Christ and provide for their physical needs BUT much more. We are too provide the truth of the Gospel that gives eternal life, to provide true healing and nourishment for their souls.

    So give freely as the Lord leads you. Trust your finances to the Lord as you only have what He allows anyway, the more loose our grasp on them the more freely and trusting we can give as He is our provider. And finally, give financially, and provisionally, but share the Gospel. Provision apart from the Gospel is to put a band-aid where surgery is needed. Romans 10:13-17

  3. aidenkang May 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    We shouldn’t give to assuage our guilty conscience.

  4. aidenkang May 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    I may be a little more cynical on this one, but I’ve just seen too many cases of “Slumdog Millionaire”, so without knowing it, we could be supporting some Slumdog kingpin.

  5. JarrodCraw May 24, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    I think that we’ve got to remember Jesus’s words about being innocent and yet shrewd. A good resource to consult is “When Helping Hurts.” I think that the idea of just giving money without any concern is not practicing good stewardship. However, some help is better than no help. It’s not an easy decision for anyone to make, but we have to practice discernment in this area of life.

  6. Thomas June 27, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for this great article! Giving is such an important virtue that needs to be practiced so others will learn its value. Giving isn’t easily taught but is very inspiring when someone sees it in practice.

  7. marymact@gmail.com August 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I like the challenge to consider giving as it benefits entire communities rather than 1-2 individuals.

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