“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20 NIV)
The happiest individuals are often the most generous. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the most valuable rituals for those who would follow his Word. He makes a special point to encourage those within earshot to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” As a young boy, I often pictured a pile of gold coins neatly stacked in rows in one of the many rooms promised to us there in heaven. However, as I began to discover the joy of giving, that imaginary pile diminished and was replaced with the images of those that I had assisted along the way.
One of the most generous couples I have ever known was not wealthy by the standards of our country. However, throughout their lives, they sacrificed what they had in order to help others. They were also one of the happiest couples I have ever known despite hardships including separation during time of war, battles with cancer, struggles of raising children, and continuing health care issues as senior adults.
I could not help but ask them, with all they had been through in life, what made them so happy as a couple, and as individuals? Their reply revealed an understanding of Jesus’ words to the crowds in the Sermon on the Mount. Simply put: the joy of giving to others united them in their faith, with each other, and also with God. Their happiness was rooted in their faith, as well as a conscious decision to place their treasure and their hearts in service to others.
Our culture seems obsessed with a search for happiness, yet many overlook the simplest path to personal satisfaction. By living and giving to others, we are able to fulfill the meaning of Jesus’ lesson. When you give joyfully, you receive more than you ever give away. Generosity is the key to happiness here on earth and storing our treasures in heaven.
Can you think of a time when you experienced great joy in giving to someone else or doing something for someone else?
In your journal, make a list of the happiest people you know. Choose a few, and ask them the question, “What makes you happy?”