Giving means more, not less
A Christian Science perspective: What inspires selfless giving?
We generally understand giving as giving away – taking something we have and giving it to another person, say, or to an organization. Then we supposedly no longer have it, or we have less of it.
But that’s a misleading sense of giving. Giving, from another point of view, is opening thought to the infinite goodness that God is always providing. As the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the United States and other countries around the world, it’s worth considering the gratitude we feel for the good around us, and the goodness we are inspired to express as a result.
Who is the real supplier of goodness? If it’s us, then if we give something we lose it. But because God is infinite good – and we are, in the words of the Bible, made in His image (see Genesis 1:26, 27) – our giving is actually an individual expression of the unlimited, infinite nature of divine goodness. This spiritual goodness can never stop, and recognizing this limitless nature of God’s love inspires us to do good for others. In unselfishness there are riches for everyone.
That’s because God’s love supplies us all. If we think of supply only in terms of what we have materially, we may struggle with a sense that goodness can fluctuate. But I’ve found that thinking of supply in terms of what God – who is Love itself (see I John 4:8) – is giving to all of us, His spiritual children, lifts fears that we might not have enough and inspires us to express His love toward others.
Giving has a profound role in the Bible as an expression of God’s love. For instance, when Abraham asked his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, the servant decided that the right woman would be one who had a generous sense of giving (see Genesis 24). As he sat by a well in Nahor during his search, the servant prayed to God, “Let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac.”
And that is how it happened. Rebekah showed up at the well “before he had done speaking,” and alone among those drawing from the well she willingly gave water to the servant as well as to his camels. And so Rebekah eventually went with the servant to meet Isaac, and “she became his wife; and he loved her.”
Christ Jesus outlined the law of giving in beautiful terms: “Give, and it shall be given unto you,” he said; “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
What God, divine Love, gives us is spiritual: limitless goodness, eternal life, absolute truth, perfect love. When we, in turn, share these Godlike qualities by expressing them to others in the highest way that we understand, we are fulfilling the law of unselfed goodness. Everyone involved in discerning God’s love and expressing it in new and harmonious ways must be blessed.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded The Christian Science Monitor, was clear about the importance of divinely based giving, or giving that reflects God. “Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker,” she wrote, “neither does withholding enrich us” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 79). Material giving – transferring ownership of something from one person to another – is not in itself the spiritual giving that makes God apparent. But it can be a wonderful expression of God’s love if it is done with that love behind it. And we can’t lose anything by this kind of giving.
As Mrs. Eddy notes, “Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love – be it song, sermon, or Science – blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ’s table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty” (Science and Health, p. 234). God is the supplier of all good. And we all have equal access to that spiritual abundance, right now, to value and to share.