The Act of Giving Lies the Expression of One’s Aliveness

Giving: A Spiritual Gift

The essence of giving may very well originate within the ability of each of us to look outside of ourselves while entering into the lives of others via having compassion on other human-beings. Within the construct of God- given spiritual gifts that are given to those who follow the tenants of the Holy Scriptures, giving is a spiritual gifts that represents what God does in the lives of the giver and the receiver.

A faithful follower of the Scriptures are taught that the  motivational spiritual gift represents what God does in each soul to shape their perspective on life and motivate their words and actions. Romans 12:3–8 describes “basic motivations,” which are characterized by inherent qualities or abilities within a believer—the Creator’s unique workmanship in him or her.

Each person’s behavior will vary according to factors such as temperament, background, age, gender, culture, and circumstances. However, it is not unusual for individuals who share the same motivational gift to demonstrate common characteristics.

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From a humanistic perspective

Erich Fromm acknowledges that the most widespread misunderstanding is that which assumes that giving is ‘giving up’ something, being deprived of, sacrificing. People whose main orientation is a non-productive one feel giving as an impoverishment… the virtue of giving, to them, lies in the very act of acceptance of sacrifice… For the productive character giving has an entirely different meaning. Giving is the highest expression of potency. In the very acts of giving I experience my strength, my wealth, my power. The experience of heightened vitality fills me with joy. I experience myself as overflowing, spending, alive, hence as joyous. Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness. [Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (New York: Harper, 1974), pp. 18-19.]

Benefits of compassion

The reason a compassionate lifestyle leads to greater psychological well-being may be explained by the fact that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving. A brain-imaging study headed by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institutes of Health showed that the “pleasure centers” in the brain, i.e., the parts of the brain that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, and sex), are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves! Giving to others even increases well-being above and beyond what we experience when we spend money on ourselves. In a revealing experiment by Elizabeth Dunn, at the University of British Columbia, participants received a sum of money and half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half was told to spend the money on others. At the end of the study,  which was published in the academic journal Science, participants who had spent money on others felt significantly happier than those who had spent money on themselves. [The Compassionate Mind, Science shows why it’s healthy and how it spreads. By Emma Seppala]

Giving is good; it is part of not making myself  the absolute point of reference in my life. But there will be times when it is not easy, and does not immediately fill us with joy or ‘heightened vitality’. We must then rely on God, who, in Paul’s words, love a cheerful giver and who is able to make all grace abound to us, so that we have all we need (Cor. 9:7-8). Love of God, confidence in His greatness and goodness, and the regular experience of His care, frees us from the burden of looking out for ourselves, and allows us to give freely.   [Gleaned from  Renovation of The Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, by Dallas Willard, pg. 56.]first