A Joyful Heart

A Joyful Heart

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Physician and sociologist Nickolas Christakis tracked 5,000 people over 20 years and discovered what most of us likely suspected, that surrounding ourselves with cheery people makes us happier. Happiness is contagious.1 And though this should cause us to carefully choose our associates (1 Corinthians 15.33), it should likewise motivate us to be that one spreading the joy. 

Solomon wrote, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17.22 NASB1995). I have often received this medicine, including my most recent visit to interventional radiology to have a surgical drain placed in an abscess. One of the nurses in the radiology department is named Andre, and I have had the pleasure of receiving his care on multiple occasions. 

Last November, when hospitalized for the same purpose of draining abscesses, Andre was the one who came to fetch me and carry me to radiology. You could hear Andre singing before he arrived. He helped me into a wheelchair, and we took things routinely until we reached a long, empty corridor. Then, suddenly, Andre started making the noises of a race car, and we went flying through the halls. As we turned corners, Andre would screech as if he had to brake hard to keep us from crashing. 

Andre had to fetch my father from the waiting room during my latest visit. Upon arriving at the waiting room, he asked those seated if they’d rather hear him imitate Bing Crosby or Elvis Presley. Their choice must have been Elvis Presley because he played Elvis on his smartphone and danced as he brought dad to my bedside. Then, he pointed at my hot-blooded sideburns, which he mistook for pork chops, and said, “See, Elvis.” 

It is hard to feel anxious or afraid about your procedure when such a friendly fellow has you grinning from ear to ear. It is also hard not to like Andre. It reminds me of what interpersonal relationships, even with strangers, could be if we sought what edified others rather than divisiveness (Romans 14.19).  

Had we wanted, we could have focused on our differences. For example, Andre has more melanin in his skin while I have less. Perhaps that has led to Andre developing a different worldview. I acknowledge that this may have caused Andre to experience things I have not, wholly negative things. But Andre did not act as if that were a factor in our interactions. Things like politics or socioeconomic differences were not a consideration. Instead, Andre and I interacted as two people made in God’s image. He treated me in a manner consistent with how he desired me to treat him (Matthew 7.12).    

Paul tells us to look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2.4). We likely take this to mean that we should focus more on meeting physical needs like hunger or spiritual needs through evangelism. However, I suggest that sometimes the best way to look after another’s interest is to smile at them and share your joy (Galatians 5.22). I admit that we cannot all be extroverts to the degree of Andre, but we can still spread the joy we feel to others. 

Sources Cited 

1 Arley, Dan. “Beware: Happiness Is Contagious.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 June 2009, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/predictably-irrational/200906/beware-happiness-is-contagious

A Small Portion Does Not Mean Small Proportion

A Small Portion Does Not Mean Small Proportion

Neal Pollard

Those who address us prior to our giving often make a statement like this, that we are giving back but a small portion of what God has blessed us with. In other words, if you could owned and could contribute all the world’s wealth, week after week, how would that compare to the sacrificial gift of Christ (cf. Mat. 16:26)? In fact, how could it compare with the many additional blessings besides atonement—a body equipped with the ability to perform involuntary actions (breathing, blood flow, cell regeneration, etc.), an environment conducive to life (air to breathe, photosynthesis, etc.), a planet in harmony with sun and moon making life possible, and the list is endless. It is not only impossible to out-give God, it is impossible to come anywhere close.

The Bible does not dictate a percentage for the New Testament Christian giver. The inferior covenant (cf. Heb. 8:7-8) required a tenth of all (Heb. 7:5), a pretty good benchmark for those of us having access to the better covenant established upon better promises. It is impossible to know what anyone might be thinking who hears the well-intended, if well-worn, statement, “We have the opportunity to give back a small portion of the many blessings we have received…” It does not mean, “A small proportion.” Nowhere does the Bible sanction stingy, leftover-style giving. In fact, it condemns such (read Malachi). Instead, Paul writes, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).

Giving involves a monetary, financial exercise, but it is a distinctly spiritual activity. It is an act of trust, a faith that the God who has provided will continue to provide and bless the one who bountifully shares what he has been given. When we, like the Macedonians, give beyond what we believe is beyond our ability (2 Cor. 8:1-5), we open up an exciting door in our walk with Christ.

If you are one who gives a small proportion of your income, may I challenge you to increase it? See what happens in your life. You are not giving to manipulate or coerce God, but you will experience a growth not possible on the “small proportion” side of generous giving. Trust Him! He has never broken a promise yet (read Mal. 3:10 and Luke 6:38).

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