As I write this, it’s “Giving Tuesday,” an addition to our annual calendar set aside as a day of online giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. Since you’re on the internet reading this blog post you already know about it by the dozens of “Giving Tuesday” requests you’ve received.
While I’m not usually happy to see a clogged inbox, I think any reminder of giving is a good thing. We live in cynical, selfish times, so any reminder of taking what is “ours” and giving it to another—especially another in need—is the strongest response we can make against a climate of self-centeredness.
We are all familiar with the phrase “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It’s actually a quote from St. Paul in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, himself quoting Jesus as having said this. We’ve heard this all our lives and have taken for granted that this precept is true. But in recent years our culture has begun to call this assumption into question. In the iEverything age, we might enjoy the sentiment of giving as superior to receiving, but we find it harder and harder to put this into practice. Some in our day will even openly ask the question, “Is giving really better? Why?” We can no longer assume that there is universal agreement that giving is better than getting.
But whether the occasion is “Giving Tuesday” or the giving season of Christmas, it’s good to be reminded of just how good giving is. Because deep down, we know it’s true. Stop for a moment and think of one or two of the things you’ve done in your life of which you were the most proud and thankful to have been able to do. Chances are, they were an act of giving of some kind.
So when the maxim of it being “more blessed to give than to receive” is called into question by the cynical voices of our day, our remembrance of why it’s true will keep us from giving in to this growing negativity.
Being Christmas time, at some point our family will, like many others, gather around to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Is there any better ending to a movie than watching all the people to whom George Bailey had given so much, now returning to give to him? The warmth and beauty of that moment or others, fictional or real, is the proof that giving’s blessedness is undeniable to those who want to know the truth.
Our entire Christian faith is centered on one act of selfless giving. Jesus’ gift of life to us from the Cross and via the Empty Tomb is the ultimate act of giving. No one before or since has given up so much to give what He gave. And so we who take the name of “Christian” take on the calling to follow Christ in a life of giving. There’s nothing the world needs more and nothing more blessed we could do.