In the Christian tradition god initiates. God seeks out people and desires their health. Jesus took up this idea when he said that he came so people could have ‘life in all its fulness’.
For the Christian giving is part of the ‘character’ of God. In secular terms we’d say something like, “life comes free”. All the beauties of nature we didn’t earn. Those of us in wealthier countries reap the benefits of previous generations work and generosity to future generations (buildings and institutions meant to last and not just be consumed by the existing generation).
This is ‘divine injustice’ – we benefit from many good things which we haven’t done anything to create.
In public discussion the debate is often framed as competitive or (at best) equal benefit. In domestic life it is different. We give time to our friends without expecting quid pro quo. We regard it as a virtue to care for those who can’t care for themselves (let alone anyone else).
When we look at what do in daily life, and what contributes to our thriving, it is ‘divine injustice’. Giving spontaneously out of a full heart. Joy is an inner fulness – and it bubbles up and flows out of us with no effort.
Can people take advantage of divine injustice, our willingness to help and give? They can and do. And they are dangers to life. They need to be managed and stopped as much as possible. This involves all scales of life from setting good boundaries in personal relationships to transparency and accountability for bureaucracies and governance to divestment from industries profiting from abuse and destruction of our planet.
When we are thriving we can receive gladly and give spontaneously. There is a kind of self-forgetfulness where we all benefit.
Taking choices to thrive is not selfish. It is honouring your desire to be healthy – and probably to relate well to others (although if you are in a life threatening situation this may not be conscious). Those who dislike these choices are usually not happy – in my experience they are usually fuelled by resentment. And often enough they desire power over – that old enemy of the spontaneous enjoyment of life.
Joy to the Earth (and its creatures)
When we are thriving, when we have joy; we can collaborate and share. We can create places where there is more than enough for all. We can create places where there is enough safety and support so that people can heal from past injuries and betrayal.
In the spirit of Christmas I invite you to find one thing you can do before you go to sleep to thrive more and experience more joy.