Click here to listen to the audio version of this article.
The Gift of Altruistic Giving
Hope Komarynsky and Michelle Martin

(4 minute read) 

Crunchy leaves, crisp air, and cozy nights-in with those we love! Pumpkin carving and spending hours in the kitchen preparing for Thanksgiving holiday gatherings…I’ve always been a fan of the warmth this time of year brings!  The spicy familiar fragrances heighten our sense of smell while the traditional savory sweets make our taste buds almost gasp. What sights as we delight in the gorgeous table-scapes of holiday décor! An increased sense of thankfulness and generosity is felt as our God-given spirit of altruism grows in our hearts.
As giving and thanks are common themes in November, I’m prompted to examine myself and check in with my heart’s motivation as opportunities to be generous are presented to me.  Am I motivated to give due to unspoken social pressure or because I truly find joy in blessing others?  Would I still want to contribute to a cause if I knew I wouldn’t receive recognition or appreciation?  Am I giving simply because it’s the “right thing to do?”
As a Christian, my goal in giving should be altruism.  Psychology Today defines altruism as “to give to others without expecting anything in return. This giving is done for the sake of the other(s) and not done for any expected reward to the self.” However, the human heart is incapable of pure altruism because it’s self-seeking and prideful by default. (Jeremiah 17:9).
Thankfully, the Spirit fills in the gaps as we strive to live like Jesus! “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV) We see altruism modeled for us throughout the pages of Scripture. Jesus performed countless acts of caring for others selflessly – even to the point of His death on the Cross. Another encouraging passage is found in Philippians 2:3-4.  It says: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” This humility is exactly the aim Christians should strive to embody as we give.
Over the past few years, we have all been challenged to break rhythms that were familiar.  Because we found ourselves in unfamiliar territory, asking God what He wanted and how He wanted it done allowed for new innovative rhythms to develop! We have now come to realize the benefit of reevaluating the “how” and “why” behind our routine actions. Although this is uncomfortable at times, thinking outside the box proves that tilling the soil of the familiar can reveal our motives and allow new ones to surface. During this season filled with opportunities to be generous, take these questions to God:

  • Are there new ways or places to give?
  • Are there new purposes or goals for your giving?

Throughout this process, God is invited to cultivate and refine His purposes in our heart.  This Thanksgiving, join us as we examine our hearts and work to be generous from an altruistic motivation.

Click here for a list of more self-reflection questions!