Giving is a high priority for many people during the holiday season. While charities and civic groups need help all the time, and there are many opportunities to step up and offer support year-round, the holidays are a time when those who might not ordinarily get involved in charitable work often do something extra. It feels good to be a part of this effort to enrich the lives of others, and it may open up ways to maintain this expression of love throughout the year.
Since God's goodness is unlimited and each of us is designed to express that goodness, what we have to share goes well beyond money in the bank or food in the pantry. It comes in the form of spiritual qualities, such as efficiency, agility, strength, and patience.
God provides the ability to turn those qualities into skills that enable us to help others. Then, we're giving from what we have, and this kind of giving is sustainable and practical. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, wrote, "Know ye not that he who exercises the largest charity, and waits on God, renews his strength, and is exalted?" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 130).
Being involved in my community is important to me, and I pray to find activities that my daughter and I can engage in together. I want her to grow up caring about others and thinking beyond herself. Remembering how clearly and effectively God guided the people in the Bible, in my prayers I ask God where we should go and what we should do.
This fall I became aware of a new annual project that would bring together on one day all of the government and community service providers who could help the homeless in our area. I wanted to be a part of it.
Before the event, I prayed that our unique combination of spiritual qualities would be put to use in the most practical way possible. I knew that God is Mind, and that divine intelligence would guide those who were overseeing this large undertaking.
On the day of the event, it became apparent that there was an urgent need in the animal care area. Many guests had brought pets to be seen by a vet and to obtain food and other supplies. Since we already had experience working with animals through our volunteer work at the local humane society, this was a perfect fit. God had led us right to where we could make the biggest difference. Next year, we'll be involved in the project again, this time assisting with the planning as well.
Later on, I read the account in the Bible where Peter and John aided a man who was unable to walk. He asked for money. Maybe Peter and John had some coins on them or maybe they didn't. Either way, they wouldn't have had enough money to take care of this individual for the rest of his life. So instead, they gave of what they had, and it turned out to be the best gift of all.
The Bible reports, "Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). The man jumped up, healed. Not only was his life renewed, but many others saw what happened and enthusiastically embraced the teachings of Jesus, which the two apostles had shared.
Talk about active involvement in the community and practical work! This was only one of the times that Jesus' followers changed someone's life through an understanding of God's power and love.
Through study of the Bible and of the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, we also can be healers. And along the way, we can offer kindness and comfort to those who are struggling. The way this occurs will be different for each of us, but every moment of compassion has value. We can be a part of God's continuous goodness, all year long.