Giving Really Is Better than Getting

From Issue: Discovery 12/1/2016

The holiday season is upon us.  Maybe you have been dreaming for months about the presents that you are going to get this year. You might have even gone through several catalogs and circled the toys, clothes, or electronic gadgets you are hoping for. Chances are, you won’t even be able to sleep the night before Christmas, because you will be thinking about all the presents you are planning to receive.

It sure is fun to receive presents. But did you know that there is something much better than getting great presents? You might not believe it, but giving things to others is actually better than getting them. You don’t have to take my word for it. Jesus told us this truth. In Acts 20:35, Paul said, “And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Getting presents is so much fun, it is hard to believe that it is better to give than to get. But it is true.

Have you ever watched how your parents behave on Christmas while you are opening up your presents? Do they compare their stack of presents to yours? Are they angry or jealous that they did not get as many presents as you? Of course not. The truth is, if your parents are like most that I know, they do not really even care how many presents they get, or how nice they are. They are much more interested in watching you open your presents. They have learned that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

You see, when you think only about yourself and how many presents you receive, it can cause you to become selfish and unhappy. You will constantly compare your things with other people’s, and you will become discontent with what you have. When we think only about ourselves, we can never truly be happy.

When we look at the life of Jesus, we see how He approached life. He was not selfish. He did not think only about Himself and what He would receive from others. Instead, He spent His time on Earth thinking about what He could give to others. In Philippians 2:4-5, we read, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” By thinking about what we can give and how we can help others, we are following Jesus’ example and can be truly happy.

Think about how quickly we forget the presents we receive. If someone were to ask you what you got for Christmas last year, chances are good that you could not name even half of your presents. So many presents we receive get lost, are broken, or we quickly grow out of them. Material possessions such as iPhones, toys, and clothes can never make us happy. When we have the mind of Christ, however, and think about the interests of other, we experience a joy that is far beyond the brief happiness of getting a gift.

A man named Dan Clark once told a story about his friend Paul. Paul had a brother who gave him a brand new car. One day while Paul was walking to his car, he saw a young boy admiring it. The boy asked Paul where he had gotten the car. Paul explained that his brother had given it to him. The boy was amazed and said, “I sure wish…” Paul thought he knew exactly what the boy was going to say. Truth is, you probably think you know what he said. How would you finish that sentence if it were you? You might be just as surprised as Paul was to hear how the boy finished the sentence. He said, “I sure wish I could be a brother like that.” That boy understood Jesus’ message that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

So, make sure you have a long list this year. No, not a long list of presents that you want to get (though there is nothing wrong with wanting presents), but a long list of presents you want to give. Have you thought about what your mother would really like to receive from you this year? What present would mean a lot to your dad? Can you think about what your brothers and sisters may need or want? Are there children at your school who may not receive many presents that could use a nice, thoughtful gift from you? Are you aware of any mission works or children’s homes in other countries where kids need things? This year, try writing out the best kind of list of all: what you will give.

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