Solicitations from charities pile up on the kitchen table and holiday gift catalogs tease the eye with colorful headlines. The giving season is well under way. But what if someone’s enthusiasm to give generously is dampened by a lost job or lowered income?
Giving is an act of the heart more than the pocketbook; our ability to give is entirely separate from our financial condition. Giving is a divine impulse that resides within our true nature as God’s children. No adverse circumstance, however unsettling, has the power to block this flow of love and generosity.
When perceived in a spiritual light, the desire to give good is a manifestation of divine Love. We have it because God has it. If we feel hesitant to give, we can realize that we are children of God, the great Giver, the one Spirit or cause of all being. We can find assurance in knowing that, individually and collectively, we are the spiritual reflection or effect of this great cause. Such an eternal cause is wholly good, and God’s children express this goodness and love, just as sunbeams express the sun’s light and warmth.
A giving heart, therefore, is our true and natural heart. The Bible indicates this relationship between God and creation when it states, "We love because he first loved us" (I John 4:19, New International Version).
Without a sense of divine Love giving impulse to our deeds, human charity (though well-intentioned) may become mired in willfulness, self-glorification, or self-consciousness. St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians: "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing" (I Cor. 13:3, New International Version).
On the other hand, if our giving is rooted in divine grace, which looks heavenward to the Father and reflects back the love it sees, it is sure to be genuine and profitable, no matter what form it takes. Someone who lends a hand, shares a word of encouragement, or donates time or resources to a worthy cause is looking outward – away from self – toward the greater good.
One day while I was driving by a park in a nearby town, I noticed an elderly woman in a wheelchair, wrapped in a blanket, and another woman sitting with her, obviously caring for her. I suddenly felt impelled to park the car and go speak to them. They were complete strangers, but I felt a divine call to respond in some way.
As I approached, the caregiver gently tucked the blanket around the elderly woman and gave her a kiss. "Looks like a lot of love going on over here!" I said.
"Yes, this is my mother and we’re out getting some fresh air." The daughter was teary-eyed as she explained her mother’s health challenges. But I found some encouraging words to share with them, words of compassion and appreciation, and of God’s love for them. The daughter agreed that the Father was taking care of her mother, and she regained her composure. I felt blessed by having shared this moment in the presence of God with these two individuals.
No pall need settle over our spirit of giving this season. In fact, the cure for any disheartened sense of things is to love more. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote, "The inevitable condition whereby to become blessed, is to bless others..." ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 127).
A giving heart overflows each day, remaining alert and receptive to fresh, creative, and spontaneous ways to bless others. Such a spiritual outlook is sure to make this the best giving season yet.