Giving: It enriches the recipient, and it naturally blesses the giver as well. For instance, selfless giving strengthens character and can also serve as an example, creating a potential ripple effect as others feel inspired to give too.
Often giving involves sharing one’s excess, rather than sacrificing something we need. But then there’s the kind of giving as described in the Gospel of Mark in the Bible, when a widow gave of her want – all the little she had – at the temple treasury (see 12:41-44). As Jesus points out to his disciples, her example illustrates a more expanded sense of giving, one that is self-sacrificing.
Christian Science, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, sheds further light on this idea, showing that true giving has a spiritual basis. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy explains that God is not able to “do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love” (p. 2). God, whom we can also know as divine Love, bestows on – gives – us boundless good from His infinite goodness.
We naturally reflect God’s love and goodness in our true, spiritual nature, created in God’s image (see Genesis 1:26, 27). This relation we each have to the source of infinite good empowers us to give of that goodness to others. God gives us the wherewithal, the resources – the ideas, inspiration, and ability – to do so. Therefore, when it’s God’s love that impels us to give, recipients aren’t just being helped by us personally. They (and we) are experiencing the blessing of God’s love.
I remember when a valuable lesson about this kind of giving became clearer to me. I had the opportunity to give some of my time to help others, but I also had some tasks of my own to complete, so I declined to help. Afterward I realized that my reasoning had been self-centered, and I was grateful for that insight. Realizing that meant there was hope for me to act more selflessly in the future.
I hadn’t been ready that day to give of my time, because I’d felt it would mean giving up (or at least postponing) what I really wanted to be doing with that time. However, since that experience, I’ve been nurturing the desire to give more selflessly and to ground my giving on that more spiritual basis of recognizing I reflect God’s limitless good. It’s helped me realize that there’s plenty of good to go around, and I’ve been finding that I’m more inclined and also more able to give in meaningful and appropriate ways.
Recently, for instance, I was tight for time and came across someone who needed some help. Instead of feeling unable or unwilling to help, as I might have previously, I thought about how I was actually in the right place at the right time to meet this need. I realized that the ability and time to do so, the goodness this person needed me to share, truly came from God and it couldn’t disadvantage me to give what was needed. So I joyfully gave of my time and was able to meet the need. And not only was that person helped, but I was still able to get done what I needed to, as well.
Ultimately, giving can be even more enriching for all involved as we learn to consider it from a more expansive, selfless, spiritual view. When we open our hearts to God’s goodness and to expressing it outwardly, we can expect that opportunities to give will arise and the resources to do so will be there for us. Both are the natural outcome of God, divine Love, expressing goodness in each one of us.
And when all is said and done, may we each experience the special joy of which Mrs. Eddy speaks when she refers to “that joy which finds one’s own in another’s good” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 127).