Christmas has come and gone. The year 2016 has begun. What is going to be different this year? As we keep doing the same things we end up getting the same results. Are we any happier than we were last year? Did the spending and gift giving help us to be more content? I would like to share a secret with you. Maybe it isn’t a secret but it certainly can change up how you think and then what you do.

Let’s look back for a moment. Christmas is a time to give gifts. I love seeing my grand boys opening presents and being excited about what might be inside. To see them expressing joy and thankfulness, is a tonic to my soul. I thoroughly enjoy getting my wife just the right gift that she wasn’t expecting. Having people in our home and sharing life, food and fun with them is also a great encouragement. What does all this have in common and how is this some great secret?

Let’s consider what the thought is behind doing all these things. Generosity is the focus of all of these. Each of these could be done for all the wrong reasons – expecting a nice gift in return for giving one; building my prestige by having the “right” people in my home for dinner. Notice how people seem to be entitled today. Living with the expectation of getting from others rather than giving to others.

However, we can also be generous for all the right reasons. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” What does it mean to give for the right reasons? The opposite of entitlement is generosity. Taking what we have and giving it away. Not giving everything away but certainly giving because we have so much.

The result of giving is to be blessed. This is developing thankfulness and becoming a thankful person. It is a joy-filled life because you are making a difference for someone.

At Christmas, agencies that reach out into the community see an influx of money and help in physical ways. This is fantastic and they really do need and deserve our support. However, generosity should not just be for one season or month of the year. The spirit of generosity should permeate all of our lives all the time.

This year I would like to challenge us to build on a solid foundation of generosity. Give without strings being attached; without expectations; without thinking what you are going to get in return or that someone now “owes” you something; without seeing it as building your reputation. Just give with an open hand, freely. You will find that you are more thankful and filled with joy. Give it a try. See what happens.