September 23rd, 2017| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


The recent natural disasters brought out a lot of generosity in ordinary folks. A human chain that saved an older gentleman. The “Cajun Navy” of Louisiana denizens who drove hours from Baton Rouge, boats and all, to rescue those in distress. Lincoln, Nebraska, that sent 80 of its finest (from police and fire departments) to Texas to be there even before the storm hit. “Mattress Mack” (Jim McIngvale) of Gallery Furniture that opened his store to house refugees. Anheuser-Busch that swapped beer for water in over 150,000 cans. 61-year-old Houston Police Sgt. Steve Perez that went out at 4:00 am to serve his police shift (he didn’t make it to his station or back to his home).

And, surely, many more, in these days of hurricanes and earthquakes and fires.

Generosity! What makes people generous? Seems like an illogical action that involves sacrifice. Is it for furtherance of cooperation and cohesion that enhances chances of mammalian survival? Is it because something is expected in return?


Well, a study in Nature Communications, “A Neural Link Between Generosity and Happiness,”suggests that the explanation for generosity is much simpler: Generosity makes one happy!

Researchers from the Department of Psychology, University of Lübeck, in Germany, promised participants about €23 a week for four weeks. One half was asked to commit to giving it all to others (spenders); the other half was asked to plan on how they would spend the loot on themselves (spoilers). Both groups were then asked questions evoking scenarios pitting participants’ self-interests with that of those who might receive the donations. All the while the research subjects were undergoing MRI scans that examined areas in the brain linked to altruism, to happiness, and to decision-making. When the area of the brain linked to altruism lit up, it triggered a response to that related to happiness. (Moreover, research subjects also consistently indicated that spending moolah on others made them feel good.)

Wrote the team:

Our study provides behavioral and neural evidence that supports the link between generosity and happiness. … However, in everyday life, people underestimate the link between generosity and happiness and therefore overlook the benefits of … spending [on others].”

Generosity makes one happy!

Perhaps that was what Paul was talking about when he credited the generous Macedonians:

Now, brethren, to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,
that in a great ordeal of suffering their abundance of joy and their deep poverty abounded
in the richness of their liberality.
2 Corinthians 8:1–2

Despite their “deep poverty” and their own “great ordeal of suffering,” their generosity towards other burdered fellow-Christians abounded with joy! Suffering, they are joyful; impoverished, they are rich in giving. Afflicted, they are happy. Broke, they are wealthy in charity. Amazing!

Generosity makes one happy!

Indeed, the Macedonians were begging Paul to give them an opportunity to be generous!

… begging us with great urging for the grace and participation in the support of the saints.
2 Corinthians 8:3b

And how did they give?

For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave ….
2 Corinthians 8:3a

This generosity of giving was a reflection of a deeper kind of giving:

… they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.
2 Corinthians 8:5

Giving of oneself to God, because only then can one be generous … and happy!

Generosity makes one happy! Yup, the Bible knew that a long time ago!

Give … till you laugh!


  1. Eric Fan September 24, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Thanks Abe for sharing it. (I know I don’t say that enough. But I hope you know that many of your readers feel the same way.)

    Acts 20:25b …the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed (happy) to give than to receive.’

    This does sound like another case of science discovering God’s truth, another pretty pebble or shell discovered on the seashore.


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