The Flip Side of Giving


There’s a saying of Jesus — reportedly more than two thousand years old — that goes like this: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But in our time, many in our society seem to be ruled by a contradictory principle: “Receiving is all that matters.”

Other often-heard comments are:

  • “Get all you can out of life.”
  • “Always look our for Number One.”
  • “We need more to fall to the bottom line.”
  • “I made mine. If you want yours, go earn it for yourself.”
  • “Only the strong survive.”


Consider the way in which much of business is conducted in our day. Profits are plowed back into development in order to make the upcoming Initial Public Offering at the stock market more attractive. Rather than helping worthwhile causes, many who attain new wealth put their money into investment plans that they believe will increase their security in retirement. The gap between the rich and the poor seems to be widening. And charitable contributions have remained relatively level — at about two percent of our Gross Domestic Product despite the fact that we live in the era of the “new economy” in which more of us are prospering. Is our world better for this?

Take a moment to answer these questions:

  • Does every child in America and around the world go to bed with a full stomach and a loving hug from someone who cares?
  • Is all of the possible research being done to cure devastating diseases?
  • Can every qualified student afford a college education?
  • Do the homeless have a warm place to rest their heads at night?

Some would argue that these problems don’t belong to them. Their pat answers include:

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  • “I made it in life without anything being handed to me.”
  • “If they bothered to get a job, they wouldn’t be homeless.”
  • “I worked my own way through college.”
  • “If we cure one disease, a new one will


But the truth is, a pat answer has never solved a problem. It takes dedicated people, devoted time, and donated dollars to solve problems.

Giving — of talent, time, and money — can hurt. It can mean sacrifice. An individual who gives may have to forego a new computer or season tickets to a favorite sporting event. A family that gives may have to pass on two extra days of their vacation or a bigger audio system in the new car. A corporation that gives may not be able to reassure its shareholders with the answers they demand. A church or synagogue that gives may have to forget about its own perceived needs for a new video projection system or some other elaborate, costly improvement to its facilities.

The flip side is that giving has tremendous rewards. These rewards can become evident in a variety of dimensions — emotional, relational, financial, and even spiritual.

Adapted from The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy

Copyright © 2002 by Blanchard Family Partnership and STC Literary, LLC, published by Zondervan, used with permission.

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