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This Christmas, remember it is better to give than to receive (even for your own health)


Studies show giving has numerous health benefits

"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)

Most recognize the mantra, "it is better to give than to receive" as a spiritual truth and a good moral practice exercised especially around the Christmas season every year, but perhaps many do not realize that the statement is also backed up by science.

Several scientific studies have shown that giving indeed does carry numerous benefits relating to one's health.

Researchers have found not only does giving benefit the receiver, but that giving is associated with lower levels of stress and results in longer, happier lives for the giver.

More life satisfaction and happiness

A study by the Women's Philanthropy Institute found that the more one give's in proportion to their household income, the more life satisfaction they will experience. Additionally, a study put on by researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia in 2008 found that spending money on others leads to overall improved happiness.

A research team at the National Institutes of Health found that when individuals donate money it triggers the release "feel-good" transmitters oxytocin and vasopressin. The decision to give is followed by the reward of good feelings. Psychologists accordingly call the virtuous cycle "the helper's high."

Longer life

Researchers at the University at Buffalo discovered in a five-year multi-institutional study that engaging in helping activities such as "providing transportation, doing errands and shopping, performing housework, providing child care" and other similar tasks results in reduced mortality rates compared to others who do not engage in helping activities.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a University of California-Berkelely study found that "people who were 55 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn't volunteer."

But why?

That is something often debated in psychological circles depending upon one's worldview. One option, however, is that God simply set up human psychology that way because it is reflective of His character.

Christians would argue that when people give they are accurately reflecting their gift-giving Creator. After all, according to the Bible, God is the one who "gives everyone life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:25) and "every good gift and every perfect gift" comes from Him. (James 1:17)

Especially related to Christmas, it was God who gave us the greatest gift of all: His only Son, as a baby in a manger, to be the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins in order that we might enter into right relationship with Him.

Yet even then He was not done giving, for "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

So this Christmas, "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
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