I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
(Philippians 4:12, NIV)
Friend to Friend
I once heard a story that offers a great prescription for joy. A young believer came to a man who had followed Christ for many years with this complaint. “I have lost my joy!” the young man said. The older, wiser Christian responded, “Go out and do something for someone else. Repeat that act of kindness nine times. Then you will find joy!”
When we develop the habit of looking for a need and then meeting it, we will experience joy as never before. Many times, instead of looking for a need, we look the other way.
Once upon a time
There were four men named
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done
And Everybody was asked to do it.
But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it.
But Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about it
Because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it
And Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody
And Nobody did the job
That Anybody could have done in the first place. (Author unknown)
It is a paradox in the Christian life that the more we give, the more we receive. In Luke 6:38, we find an amazing promise, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving–large or small–it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” If you want joy, learn to invest your life in others. Be on the lookout for a need and meet it. God created us to share each other’s load because a shared load is a lighter load.
F.B. Meyer once noted: “I used to think, that God’s gifts were on shelves-one above another and the taller we grow, the easier we can reach them. Now I find that God’s gifts are on shelves, one beneath another and the lower we stoop, the more we get.” The apostle Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 9:10, “For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will give you many opportunities to do good, and He will produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”
- Give materially.
- Give your time.
- Give encouragement.
- Give a praying heart.
- Give a listening ear.
- Give yourself.
The more you give the more joy you will experience. The more joy you have, the more you will want to give – but you cannot out-give God. He rewards “joy-givers.”
Philippians 4:17 “Really, it is not that I want to receive gifts from you. But I want you to have the good that comes from giving. Your gift is like a sweet-smelling sacrifice offered to God. God accepts that sacrifice, and it pleases him.”
The idea of a sweet-smelling sacrifice is taken from the sweet-smelling incense that was burned along with the Jewish sacrifices. When we meet a need in the life of someone, it is a pleasing aroma to God and a sacrifice of praise to Him. In fact, when we meet someone’s need, we are actually giving through that need to God Himself. In other words, that met need becomes a deposit slip in our kingdom account. Joy-givers please God and the perspective and heart behind the giving matters.
In Philippians 4:19, Paul goes on to say that when we meet the needs of others, God will meet our needs. “My God will use His wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need.” When we give out of our limited resources, God gives out of His unlimited resources. What a solid foundation for a life of joy! We simply cannot out-give God.
God stands today, arms open wide, ready to pour out His unspeakable gift of joy into our lives so that we can have joy; so that we can share that joy with others. Our gift back to Him is to be a joy-giver.
Father, please forgive me when I am so focused on what I can get that I ignore what I can give. Help me to see others as You see them, to love others as You love them and to give like You give. May I be a vessel through which Your joy flows into the people around me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
- Read 2 Corinthians 9:8. What does this verse promise to those who give generously?
- Would others describe you as a generous giver? Why? Why not?
- What do you think the link is between giving and joy?
- What change(s) do you need to make in your life in the area of giving?
More from the Girlfriends
I know it seems illogical to think that the more we give, the more we receive. However, I have seen this truth become a reality in my own life. Let me challenge you this week to concentrate on what you can give instead of what you can get and see what happens to your joy level. Need help? Check out Mary’s new journal, Joy for the Journey.