A study conducted by a group of neuroeconomists from the University of Zurich found that people who showed generosity were happier than people who acted in a selfish way. In fact, they found that if people were even a little bit generous, they still experienced a pleasant feeling. The researchers measured activity in areas of the brain linked to contentment and generosity. Interestingly, the feeling of happiness that one experiences when giving has been termed a “warm glow.”

If this study had been done among the Macedonian churches Paul highlighted in his second letter to the Corinthian church, the researchers would likely have found their findings corroborated. According to Paul, the believers in Macedonia gave willingly and experienced “abundant joy, which [had] overflowed in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).

Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to follow through on their promise of support by lifting up the Macedonian believers as compelling examples. The Macedonian believers’ generosity didn’t depend on their level of comfort or economic stability. They were “tested by many troubles, and they [were] very poor” (2 Corinthians 8:2). Yet they gave “not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will” (2 Corinthians 8:3).

What was their secret? How could they help others when they themselves were struggling? The secret was that “their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to [other believers], just as God wanted them to do” (2 Corinthians 8:5).

As followers of Jesus, we too can give generously, not from obligation but with joy. As we commit ourselves and our possessions to Him, may the Holy Spirit lead us to emit the warm glow of giving generously.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 22:1-14