Needs, wants, and giving
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
It's hard to resist a nagging sense of insecurity at this time of global financial adjustment. Essentials are costing more, and many people are reassessing their priorities. For some, this is an opportunity to distinguish needs from wants and to put the wants on the back burner until things improve. But what about the needs of others, which many people normally respond to through charitable giving? Do those go on the back burner, too?
It's not an easy question to answer, because to deny help to others is, in a way, stifling our natural impulse to love one another.
Is it really so natural to love, even people we don't know? Yes, it's built into our nature as the sons and daughters of a divine Creator to express love – and there are many instances of selfless action regularly reported in this newspaper that illustrate this. What would stifle the impulse to express love in this way, to hold back support for our brothers and sisters? Isn't it the basic fear that we may then not have enough for our own needs?
It's a fear that one can understand, and yet we aren't benefited if we stop there. We reap a greater blessing if we challenge that fear and find through prayer a peaceful trust in the constancy of good. This is based on recognizing that good comes from a higher source than volatile markets. Goodness is a quality of our divine source, of the constant loving presence that is God.
There's a spiritual law that lifts us above limitations and fears, that supports and rewards the trusting heart. Prayer gives us glimpses and evidences of this spiritual law of good in meeting our needs. Jesus expressed it this way in the Bible: "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things" (Matt. 6:32). Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and who was keenly aware of the presence of unconditional divine Love, wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need" (p. 494). This she saw as spiritual fact, made operational in our lives as we understand it and put it into practice.
To progressively prove this spiritual fact as reliable law within one's own experience takes away fear for tomorrow and brings the peace of mind that's receptive to new ideas and fresh ways of thinking more generously about the needs of others.
A woman proved this when she felt secure in responding to the opportunity to give generously. She had given up her regular, salaried position in order to prepare herself for a new career, and she was starting to feel the pinch. But she became aware that a charitable institution she loved was in need of extra financial support. As she prayed about this, she felt a great desire to express in a tangible way her gratitude and love for this institution and all the good work that it did.
So she sent nearly all her savings, feeling certain that there could be no penalty attached to a loving motive. She saw this position as supported by divine law, the law of loving God and our neighbors as ourselves. And that law enabled her to continue progressing in her new career. All her needs were met during this time, including a new car, thanks to someone else's generosity toward her.
Each individual's experience is different, and it may still be necessary and even wise to sort out needs from wants, also taking into account the needs of others. We will make more progress more quickly, however, if we make those decisions out of a growing conviction of God's goodness and love, rather than out of fear that He will not be there to care for us.
II Corinthians 9:8, Contemporary English Version