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It's Black Friday, the official beginning of the gifting season. Every year, it seems, the malls open earlier and earlier. This year, online shopping sales actually began on Thanksgiving day. Maybe this was a good thing. While husbands settled down after dinner to watch football, their wives headed to the computer to get their shopping done. Everyone gets to sleep in on Friday and do the dishes and eat leftovers! All this shopping is powered by the belief that there is joy in giving.

I've been pondering the phrase, "it is more blessed to give than to receive." After the previous post here, It seemed like there might be stil be more to say on this. Plus, for the past several weeks, I've been pursuing the hypothesis that the greatest form of love is actually not the giving-love but rather the receiving love or joy (enjoying) of love. If it really is more blessed to give than to receive, I might have to dump my hypothesis.

Thankfully, I have my mom to go to. Recently she'd been out to visit and part of the time we spent together was shopping for Christmas presents for our family. Giving is one of my mom's greatest joys. In fact, her main concern in retirement was whether or not she would be able to continue to give presents to her (23) grandchidren. The good news was, thanks to my dad's careful and creative money management over the years, the answer to that question is "yes". There should be enough money to keep giving.

But why does my mom (and why do others) love to give? The answer is pretty obvious to my mom. It gives her great joy. In other words, she receives joy from participating in the joy that the giver experiences through her gift. When I receive a gift, I experience love in receiving. Whereas, the giver experiences the double joy of being the active agent of the joy of someone else. This might be sounding a bit complicated, let me see if I can try again. Giving = 2xjoy because I delight in someone else's delight. And I know that I am the source of that delight.

The reason one gives is so that one receives. Not another "gift" (who doesn't know the panic when an unexpected gift shows up. But I don't have anything for you, we sputter.) but rather the delight of the receiver. This is where we often go wrong when we think of self-sacrificing love. If we're not careful, we can stop at the act of giving of ourselves and not go through to the joy. Such "love" is not true self-sacrificing love, because true love springs from the hope of joy of the one who is being sacrificed for. The writer of Hebrews says, "Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross." (Heb 12:2) Jesus gave of Himself precisely because He knew (and the Godhead knew) that He/They would receive from this sacrifice. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, creation would be brought into health and wholeness. Redemption would be accomplished and we would receive fullness of life. 

Paul talks in Philippians 2:2 about "making his joy complete". John has the same phrase in I John 1. They are both echoing what Jesus says in John 15. Jesus wants to have joy in His disciples. They are to remain in him and bear much fruit, that brings him joy. They are to ask the father in His name, that in receiving from him their joy may be full. It's hard to get around it. The life that Jesus died to give, is a life of constant giving and receiving, characterized by joy. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost - that makes God happy! and fills us with joy.

 


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