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A street scene of London, UK, at Christmas time. The Art of Giving.

The Art of Giving

What’s Giving to You?

Giving is a multifaceted principle. There is so much that goes into the why we give, what we give, the meaning behind the giving and the gift – it’s a deep principle. It’s something that at times we take for granted and others times we expect a return, although that expectancy can be a lie.

Modern society has brought us to the point where anything that we give is expected to be a material object. We forget that we give of ourselves daily. We give our time to our work, our family, our fiends, our hobbies, to our thoughts.

When we give our time to something, we know that we are not going to get that time back. This ought to make you ask yourself if you are giving your time to the right thing. You should also realise the other point that is just as important – you are not going to get that time back, you’ve given it away by choice.

The point I want you to draw on here is not whether you are using your time wisely or not, that’s for you to decide – it’s the fact that it’s something you have freely given away.

A Material World

Many of us do or give something because we expect something back. We have got used to receiving when we give, completely missing the whole point behind giving – to give without expecting or wanting anything in return.

When we give assistance there is an expectancy of getting something back, such as a sign of gratitude or a thank you. Now, even though those things are what we call “common decency” and “politeness”, in reality, we ought to expect nothing.

So rather than entering into an action with the usual ideals and thoughts, enter into it willingly and without expectancy, an act of your free will. Otherwise decide not to act at all. If you are asked to help with something that you feel will put stress on you, your time, family or any other reason, decide to say, “No”. Entering into something without really wanting to do it will also mean hat you won’t put all your effort into it and this will, in turn, reflect on you.

The same goes for material gifts. Don’t give them expecting anything in return. Give them because you want to, not because of some false sense of duty or ideal.

Time

Time is the one thing that we need to use wisely and comes only second to the way we live our life. How we spend our time determines our future and, at times, that of others.

We don’t think of it as gift, our time. But, as an acquaintance once told me, “We live on borrowed time”. This life, the time of others, of the objects we hold onto (but can never take with us).

The gift of time, is a commodity that is more precious than any material object we can give. The time we spend with our family, our children, our friends. Taking time out of our own life to spend time with others.

The story that embodies this is that of a child and his or her parent. Hollywood has portrayed this in many ways, such as the father or mother who is so caught up in their own life, career or job that they spend little time with their children. Needless to say, this lack of spending time together affects the child emotionally and mentally. And it will also come back to haunt the parent as well.

We fail to take responsibility for our actions and inaction’s, giving them reasons which we believe to be substantiated, but never pausing for a second to consider what effect it may have in the future.

Self reflection is the hardest thing we can do – not only because we don’t wont to be wrong, but also because it’s difficult to look at ourselves from an unbiased position. It’s hard and it’s possible.

Unexpected Returns

The strangest thing about giving selflessly, is that the returns, when they come, do so unexpectedly, from an unexpected direction and always in greater quantity. This however should not be the reason you give. It’s just to make you aware that what you receive is because of something you did, or didn’t do, in the past. At which time accept it with humility, knowing you have earned it.

Whilst on this, be aware that this goes for both sides of the coin.

Anytime we cause harm, it will also be returned to us. It’s the law – what you put out is what you get back. It may not be in the same form, but it will come back. The stress, the worry, the anxiety as a result of a past event, are in themselves the return.

And, of course, the good we put out also returns. Whenever we help another living being, in any way, we always get something back.

In some ways, when we help others it’s actually a selfish act, because of the good we feel, about ourselves and what we’ve done. This feelings are, in themselves, a greater return than what we put out. The emotions and feelings are beneficial to us, both mentally and physically. Even though that’s not what we say out to do, it’s still a return.

Giving

Maybe I’m writing this because of the time of year. For me, as a Christian, at times I feel it’s become too commercialised and removes the meaning behind it. On the other hand, it’s also a time to count our blessings and be grateful for what we have.

It’s also that time of year when so many people around the world feel closer to their fellow human beings. We realise what we have and realise what others don’t have. We open our hearts more and have a sense of wanting to help, more than we usually would.

We give food, toys, clothing and equipment to charities, more than any other time of the year. There is an understanding that there are others who need our help. This does go on throughout the year, granted, but this season brings out the humility out of more people than any other time of the year.

For some it has to do with the festive season, for others it’s a cause of an ideal held by society.

Either way, this art of giving is what we ought to aim for in our lives – to give, expecting no return, except the knowledge that we have helped another soul in their life.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; 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

Photograph by: Jamie Davies on Unsplash


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