Gift to the giver

A Christian Science perspective.

It's a truism that the more of some material thing that you give away, the less of it you have. With love and compassion, however, the reverse is true – the more you give away, the more you have.

Material things are by nature limited, finite. Spiritual ideas, however, such as love and compassion, have no limits. They don't run out. Because we are free to give only something that we have, to give love is to acknowledge that we have it, thus heightening its presence and power in our lives. In this way, giving truly blesses both the giver and receiver.

The Apostle Paul goes even further, asserting that it is "more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). This is confirmed by those engaged in philanthropic work (such as those profiled in the Monitor's "Extreme do-gooders – what makes them tick?" ), who often describe feeling much more satisfied after giving, whether they are donating their time, talents, or financial resources.

The general perspective on life is that it is essentially an accretive process, where the goal is always to gain more of something – more wealth, success, beauty, or skill. With this approach to life, people face limitations and roadblocks to achieving their goals – setbacks and downright failures. A distributive way of looking at life, however, with such outwardly directed goals as giving love, sharing wisdom, providing a useful service, expressing beauty and joy, eliminates these roadblocks.

Whatever challenges we face, there is never a situation that can render us unable to give. Taking this approach is akin to drawing from the unlimited well of the water of life that Jesus referred to in his conversation with the woman of Samaria (see John 4:10–14).

Referring to the well of water she was drawing from, Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again." Then he added, "But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (New International Version).

When our motive is to love, we are fully supported in that endeavor by all the power of divine Love itself, always.

The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, described how philanthropy "wakens lofty desires, new possibilities, achievements, and energies" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 287).

Creative power – a power as yet largely untapped – springs from the very act of focusing thought on helping others. But that doesn't mean the path of altruism is without its challenges. Later in the same passage, Mrs. Eddy made it clear that love "unfolds marvelous good and uncovers hidden evil."

Part of the work of true philanthropy is to face down evil when it rears its ugly head. This task becomes easier as we see that Love brings hidden evil to the surface so that it can be destroyed – and is powerful enough to wipe it away. Cultivating our willingness to participate in this aspect of the healing work aligns us with the full power of divine Love, and it is a protection both to ourselves and to those whom we serve.

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