'The best man or woman is the most unselfed" (Mary Baker Eddy, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," Pg. 165). To me, this statement deserves a lot of thought.
Once there was a man who was asked "Who is my neighbour?" And he answered with a story: A man was wounded by thieves. Two apparently noble people passed by him as he lay dying. Then a rather unlikely person - one who nevertheless had true compassion - stopped and helped the man. He even paid for his future care. "Go, and do thou likewise," that storyteller, Jesus Christ, told the inquirer (see Luke 10:29-37).
An important point to me is that this parable doesn't say to be concerned about how much you give, for fear you won't have enough for yourself. Why? Because the source of good is God, and in doing good we cannot be deprived of good ourselves.
Here are three distinct ways that this kind Samaritan gave to his neighbor: First, he had and showed compassion. Second, he gave up his time to help. Third, he gave his own money to pay for this man's care. Such loving, generous acts have their basis in God. They involve living a life that expresses God's nature as Love itself. When we express unselfishness and generosity to others, we are expressing God; we are seeing and showing in our actions that He has made us in His loving nature. And we can trust that we will always have enough love to be able to do this, because God is infinite Love, the very source of our being. We need not be fearful about giving - about expressing the love of God. The textbook of Christian Science explains that "giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 79).
And there are many ways to be generous. Volunteering your time to help with a worthy cause. Praying for those who ask in their times of need. Showing compassion and patience to others. Sharing financially with a family member or a stranger when honest wisdom leads you to do so. Even in small ways, you can contribute. Not littering would be a way of considering others and the environment. Sharing a smile would be showing kindness. My husband and I have sponsored two children through a worldwide charity for over 20 years, and we have never felt deprived in any way by doing this. It brings only joy to us.
Again, the most important point is that when you give generously, it is actually God who has led you to do so, and this cannot lessen - but must increase - the good you see in your life.
I remember one opportunity to give help in a time of need. While out canoeing on a lake, my husband and I spotted two people in trouble. Their canoe had capsized, and they did not have life jackets on. Worst of all, neither knew how to swim. They were holding on to their overturned canoe.
Without success, we tried to get them into our canoe. Then we decided to have them hang on to the sides of our canoe so that we could row them across the lake.
Because of the strong wind at the time, we appeared at first to go nowhere. I turned my thought to God in prayer. I knew God is omnipresent. He is always in control. He was the source of the love we wanted to express - in that case through the strength necessary to row the canoe. I knew God was our true source of help right then.
Within seconds, that canoe started moving forward. We were able to bring the people to safety, and except for being cold they were unharmed. I believe God gave us the opportunity to help that brother and sister. This illustrates the spiritual giving that leaves you feeling tremendously grateful for God's care and love.
By means of example, the Monitor recently printed this: " 'Don't deprive yourself of the joy of giving.' (Michael Greenberg's motto) In 1963, Mr. Greenberg began putting this motto into practice by giving gloves to the homeless in New York City. He did this in memory of his father, from whom he had learned the motto" (April 9, 1998).
Every day you have the opportunity and ability to express the love of God generously and unselfishly. How? By being who you are, the child of Love.