5 Surprising things about Biblical giving rather than hoarding

23 Sep

 

Why were the Israelites in the wilderness so unhappy? Events in the desert years ago still ring true today.

 

  1. The Israelites were hoarders.

Exodus 16 The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. The Israelites said, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!”

4-5 God said to Moses, “I’m going to rain bread down from the skies for you. The people will go out and gather each day’s ration…

Moses said to them, “Don’t leave any of it until morning.”

20 But they didn’t listen to Moses. A few of the men kept back some of it until morning. It got wormy and smelled bad…

21-22 (After) they gathered it every morning, each person according to need.

The Israelites were in Wilderness of Sin. They were hoarders. Rescued out of Egypt, saved from slavery, free, yet their past life looked good to them as they move through the desert. They were hoarders of memories, false images from the past. And their holding on to the past makes them ungrateful, unhappy complainers. They have gone from one form of slavery, a physical slavery in Egypt, to an emotional and spiritual slavery of their own creation. What is an antidote to such a condition? Generosity, thankfulness and contentment are created by giving your money and time away. Research shows that people who describe themselves as “very happy” volunteer an average of a day month. Those who are “unhappy”? Just half an hour. (“The Paradox of Generosity”) Hoarding creates bitterness; giving, happiness.

  1. They were unhappy together.

“The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness.”

What were the people of Israel giving to their leaders, their families and themselves? Complaints. Suppose, just suppose, they shared encouraging words with Moses and Aaron and prayers of thanksgiving with each other and to God? Giving kind words, talents, time or money releases endorphins in the brain. This release creates positive feelings. Giving makes us happy. But hoarders by nature hoard; they can not give. The Israelites’ brains were dying due to lack of giving.

 

 

  1. They forgot how God surprised them in their collective past, ungrateful, their eyes were only on the present.

“You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!”

People who forget the goodness of the past live in the worries of the future. What did the Israelites think of God? How do they believe he is going to surprise them? They believe that God brought them to this desert to slowly starve them to death. A recent Harvard Business School study found that participants who believed that spending money on themselves would make them happier were wrong. All the participants were surprised that after giving money away to others they were happier. They had to take their eyes off their present. It is never about us; always about others. God surprises us when look past ourselves to others. And He surprises us with happiness.

  1. Hoarding is contagious.; it effects not just an individual but the community

“But they didn’t listen to Moses. A few of the men kept back some of it until morning. It got wormy and smelled bad.”

Why did God allow the Manna to last only one day? Because he wanted the people to depend on Him daily. But some of the men planned to hoard. They wanted to have more than they needed. But that extra bit never lasted. As someone once said, you can’t take it with you. If the Manna that was hoarded stayed fresh for more than one day, what would have happened? More and more people would try to take the Manna with them. Giving is the solution. Studies show that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. Generosity builds networks of giving. It is contagious and ends hoarding.  And finally…

  1. The people were not with God. Giving connects us to God. Proverbs 19:17 says that “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” The Hebrew word for “poor” here indicates not just financial poverty; but people who are hurting emotionally or physically. A kind word; an encouraging text; a smile; giving a seat up on the tube to someone who looks hurting is all lending to God.

What could make us happier than giving to God? Nothing

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