Hardwired to Give

Giving back doesn’t just help those in need; it also helps us. Many of us realize that giving is better than receiving, that we are instructed by God to give generously, and that giving makes us feel good. Let’s focus on that last point.

Giving makes us feel good.

Is that why we give? It may seem easy to argue that we only give because it makes us feel good—because, after all, it really does— but there is more going on there than we may realize.

“Accusations that you’re only giving to make yourself look or feel better can leave people feeling like they’re giving for all the wrong reasons; but researchers have expressed that without outside influence, participants almost always chose to give earnings or “gifts” to a charity, anyway,” says United Brain Association. “With the veil of anonymity at their fingertips, the feelings of joy they felt by being charitable compelled them to give regardless.”

So are we hardwired to give to others, as the quoted article suggests? There is ample psychological evidence that points to this being true, which serves as further evidence for the truth of what scripture says about giving:

“You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake” (Deuteronomy 15:10).


“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

There are many temporary and fleeting feelings in our lives. In fact, we can easily fall into the trap of hedonic adaptation, which happens when we do too much of a pleasurable thing to the point where the excitement is gone.

But this doesn’t happen when we give! The previously mentioned article by United Brain Association mentions a study conducted in the early 2000s. Because of the study, “[Researchers] found that acts of charity increased activity in the portion of the brain known as the anterior prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with self-initiated behaviors, planning, and social cognition. This part of the brain is also associated with the pleasure centers, which encourage us to seek out mood-lifting behaviors and pleasurable activities.”

God has hardwired us to feel good about giving to others! Every little thing has been thought out, and the Lord keeps his promises.

We give out of the goodness of our hearts, and for the glory of God. The feeling we get is a byproduct, and an awesome one at that. We are instructed to give, and when we do so we feel the effect physically, psychologically, and spiritually.


Works Cited

United Brain Association. “The Power of Giving – The Psychology Behind Giving Back.” United Brain Association, 30 June 2022, https://unitedbrainassociation.org/2020/12/30/the-power-of-giving-the-psychology-behind-giving-back/. 

Photo from churchleadership.com: https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/giving-for-the-right-reasons/#prettyPhoto