The Bible says to love others as you would love yourself (Matthew 22:39). I don’t know about you, but I treat myself pretty well. If I work hard, I get a Starbucks coffee. When I’ve got a function coming up, I get a new dress. But am I as generous with others as I am with myself?
I usually try to be and when I am generous with others, it makes my day so much happier. From experience, most people know the joy that comes from being generous and claim it as a life principle, often without realizing God told us to live that way.
And guess what? Scientists have started to look into the neuromechanics (did I just make up a word?) of generosity. Recent research has linked the good feeling that comes when we’re generous to a chemical in our brain called oxytocin—the so-called love hormone. Turns out our brains are flooded with this chemical when we give to people generously, which is partly why giving feels so good.
Some people might say this is an evolved trait that came when we realized that we could live longer lives if we cooperated in community. But I don’t buy it. Those who look out for themselves alone usually get along just fine in the world and sometimes they prosper. I can’t see any selective advantage to generosity. In fact, the tendency to give away more than you must should be a negative selection factor because it leaves you with fewer resources to survive. Plus, if you help everyone else survive, then you have more competition for limited resources.
No, this reward for generosity didn’t come from evolution. The oxytocin is a gift from God to encourage us to follow His word. Proving once again, God’s ways are the best ways to live.