Why we Give to the Church and our Community
By Paul & Jill Larson
In response to the question of why we continue to give to St. Matthew’s and the community in which we live; we first reflected on the scriptures that teach us that God gives and therefore we always have enough to give as God would want. There are many teachings in the bible that speak of giving, for example:
2 Corinthians 9:7 says “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.”
In Acts Chapter 20 Verse 35, the bible tells us that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.
2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.”
Even though we give to the church and the community partly because we want to follow the teachings of the bible; and partly because we are fortunate to have enough to share; we also like to remember some other reasons that being generous helps us to be happy about giving. These top five reasons have been substantiated by professionals who have confirmed that there are benefits to us as we give.
1) Giving makes us feel happy
Michael Norton, a Harvard Business School Professor, found that the spirits were lifted for research participants more through giving rather than receiving.
This is because good feelings are reflected in our biology; when people give, it activates your brain's pleasure circuits that are stimulated by acts of charity and release "good feeling" chemicals such as endorphins, which give you a sense of euphoria, which promotes tranquility and inner peace.
2) Giving is good for our health
Stephanie Brown with the Institute for Social Research at The University of Michigan found that those who provided support to the community had a much lower risk of dying than those who didn’t help at all, and that receiving help was not linked to a reduced death risk.
Accordingly, the main reason that giving can help to improve physical health and longevity is because it helps to decrease stress which is linked to health issues.
3) Giving helps us maintain social connection
That is, giving to the church and our community makes us feel closer to those we give to.
Sonja Lyubomirsky shares in her book, The How of Happiness that “being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”
4) Giving evokes gratitude
In other words, giving can be a way of expressing gratitude, whether we are on the giving or receiving end; this gratitude is essential to happiness, health and social bonds. “Cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness, according to Happiness Researcher, Barbara Fredrickson. She says, “Gratitude opens your heart and carries the urge to give.”
5) Giving is contagious
When we give to others, this can create a ripple effect and encourage others to do the same, consequently increasing generosity throughout our church and community.
The “pay it forward” idea is an example of people experiencing how generosity is contagious. In a study by the University of California and Harvard, evidence was found that showed how cooperative behavior is infectious. It spreads through social networks. If you’d like to try it out, the next “Pay It Forward Day” is a worldwide celebration of kindness that takes place every year on April 28th.
So, we give generously, and that helps us to build stronger social connections within the church and throughout our community. We find ourselves benefiting from a big dose of happiness in the process, and hopefully it will help us to live a long and healthy life for years to come.
And, for when we are no longer here, we have made plans to continue sharing our fortunes by leaving a legacy gift. That is, we have set up a trust with Thrivent Charitable where the trustees will distribute our remaining investments to the church and community social services once we’re gone.
They say that you can’t take it with you, so we want to make sure that what is left will go to the good works that we choose to support, through the church ministries and other community service organizations.
Feel free to let us know if you have any questions about why we give and how we plan to continue giving. We may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.