The happiest people in the world are not those who spend and buy for themselves, but those who spend and give for the good of others. Pursuing happiness in this way, however, is countercultural in a world of buyers, spenders, and savers.
Genuine happiness, a.k.a. pure joy, is when happy people give and serve others in God’s name. They are not looking for the credit, but rather humbly acknowledge God’s glory in being able to give, for what they have is a gift from God and they are merely stewards of what they’ve been given. For those that fall into the trap of taking their gifts for granted and start taking credit for them, happiness is fleeting.
So where does one look for pure joy? It begins with providing for the poor. Even the most affluent nations will always have the poor in them. And there are different kinds of poor and different types of needs, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Who are the poor where you are and how might your gifts meet them where their needs are?
The calling here is not just a lifestyle of generosity, but ambitious generosity. This could mean lending your time and hands instead of money. Here are some examples:
- Open your home in hospitality
- Cover bills in a crisis
- Provide meals after a surgery
- Surprise someone with a thoughtful gift
- Spend time with someone lonely
- Offer to carry boxes during a move
- Babysit for young parents who need quality time together
- Help with a house project
- Bake for a neighbor
If you look for joy in these places, then you won’t grow to regret it. However, here’s a warning: it’s very difficult to do because of the daily onslaught of “it’s all about you” messaging from mainstream culture. The truth is it’s not about you.
Therefore, know that you’re doing hard work and God’s work. Do not grow weary in being ambitiously generous in God’s name for in due season you will reap, if you do not give up. That’s a life worth living.