Summary: New discoveries in neuro-science indicate that there is a "warm-glow" effect in our brains when we are generous. God has built into our brains a great way to feel happy - be generous.
Giving Makes Your Brain Happy
Psalm 72: 1-7, 10-14
January 6, 2008
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. December always leaves me exhausted and I look forward to January o that I can relax a little bit. Butt God has this interesting, and sometimes infuriating was of not letting me rest.
I was taught in seminary to preach out of the lectionary. The lectionary is a three year plan of preaching through the major themes of the Bible. Its purpose is so that preachers don’t get too comfortable and preach only those texts that are easy, or those texts that we know something about. The lectionary forces us to go places in the Bible that we normally wouldn’t go.
To be honest with you, I was pretty much a lectionary preacher until I moved here. But for the last three and a half years, I have been using a sermon series type of approach more often.
But from time to time, I go back to the lectionary, which is what I am planning to do during the month of January. I made the decision to go back to the lectionary before I took a look at the prescribed texts, but by then it was too late to reverse my decision.
When I read the lesson from Psalm 72, I wondered what God was trying to say to me, right now on the heels of Christmas. I wondered what God is saying to me because you see, I got a lot of stuff for Christmas, and he’s talking about poor folks.
You all know that Toni and I have been empty nesters for a number of years now. One of the things that we have been able to indulge ourselves in since the kids have been gone has been ownership in a timeshare. I personally consider our choice to buy a timeshare
as one of the craziest and most stupid decisions in our marriage.
But anyway, we have one now and have been to Aruba twice in the last five years. Each time we have been there, we of course do the whole shopping thing. There really isn’t much to do in Aruba except gamble (which we don’t do), sit on the beach (which gives me a sunburn), eat (which is OK), and shop.
I have been looking at this globe of the world in a couple of the jewelry stores down there. It is made of different colors of polished stone and is really pretty. They come in different sizes: some sit on a desk and others are large enough to sit on the floor. But I have never been willing to spend the money to buy one. Toni found one online and gave it to me for Christmas. I honestly don’t know how much she paid for it, but then again, I really don’t want to know. All I know is that it is a wonderful gift.
In all honesty, we live a pretty comfortable life. Americans, by and large, live a fairly comfortable life, but the psalm reminds us that there are still poor among us.
God won’t let us forget the poor in our midst. Just when I’m feeling warm and happy because I got some great Christmas gifts, God jumps into the picture and will not let me overlook those people about whom I tend to forget. Through the psalm, God tells us that there are indeed poor among us and that to forget about them is to neglect the demands of justice and righteousness.
Psalm 72 says, “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.”
It would seem that the psalmist is writing about King Solomon, whose wealth was widely known all around the world. For us, the degree of the wealth found in Solomon’s palace
and Temple are unimaginable. How can we relate to his psalm at all? What does it have to do with us? What is God trying to tell us through the psalm?
First of all, let’s remember that wealth is a relative term. I think that I’ve mentioned before, that I was a delegate to the World Methodist Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1996.
We had one free day during the conference to take advantage of the city’s unique culture. Many of the delegates did the tourist stuff (and there is nothing at all wrong with that). They took a trip to see a nearby rain forest. They took the tour bus up to the huge statue of Christ on Sugarloaf Mountain with his arms outstretched over the city.