I conducted a wedding recently where the bride and groom decided to give away all their gifts.
They were not an affluent couple. They could have used the utensils, china and other household items. They simply wanted to start their marriage off with a feeling of abundance.
Nothing demonstrates our abundance more than generosity. By giving away their gifts, they reminded themselves of the gifts of love and companionship that are more valuable than all the others.
Does the Bible Encourage Generosity
On the surface, their generosity and demonstration of abundance seems to stand in opposition to the biblical text cited above. Joseph is not giving away grain. He is accumulating it.
Yet, as we know from earlier passages, he is accumulating grain so that he can give it away when the time of famine comes. His accumulation does not serve himself. It serves the people.
Generosity Makes Us Happy
We do not need to wisdom of Joseph or the selflessness of the couple I married to appreciate the importance of generosity. Generosity turns us outward. It shifts our focus from the desires of the self to the needs of others. In doing so, it also makes us happier.
The paradoxical truth is that selflessness is selfish. Numerous studies have proven that those who give higher amounts to charity are happier and more satisfied with their lives. In other words, nice guys do not finish last.
The Secret of Giving
Wherever we are on life’s journey—whether we have accumulated a lot or a little—we can practice generosity. Jewish law actually requires that a person give enough charity to a beggar so that the beggar himself can give to charity.
This law makes no economic sense. It would be more efficient to simply give the beggar what he needs. It does make psychological sense, however, because the ability to give brings a sense of dignity to everyone.
Joseph is the only biblical figure called hatzadik, the righteous one. His generosity was part of his righteousness, and it led him to become the Prime Minister of Egypt. He knew something all of can experience. Giving is the secret to getting ahead.