Giving . . . donating . . . contributing . . . for most people there is nothing new about it. People give in some way or the other. Some give money, some donate clothes and utilities, some offer to volunteer for causes, some organize free kitchens and so on.
Giving is a noble deed. Barring a few, all practice and encourage giving towards needy causes. At times, the intention to give is quite selfish. Think of the old clothes that you give off to charity, to make space for new ones in your wardrobe. Or, the leftover food that you give to the maid or the beggar so as not to waste food. Or, even the money that you offer for religious or charitable purposes with the aim of earning blessings from the Almighty. Or, donating to orphanages or calamity-hit areas to publicize your charitable act. Philanthropy and charity are booming business sectors today. All these acts, though helpful for the recipients, are self-centered in nature.
I learnt a lesson on giving from a grey-haired eighty-year old lady. She was the Consultant of the school I worked in a couple of years back. Speaking about giving she once said, “We all give. No doubt about it. But, most of us give when we have more to spare. From our plentiful resources, we give a few. It doesn’t affect us in any way. Rather it gives us the satisfaction that we participated in a noble act. This type of giving is easy, provided one has the heart to give. However, how many of us give when we ourselves are in need? You would say whether God would expect us to give when we don’t have for ourselves. But I tell you, if you can give when it pinches you, that is true giving.”
These words have stayed with me from the time I heard them. I have thought about the veracity of these words and realised how right she was. I break it down to this – when we have only enough for ourselves and we see someone who needs just that much, it would take a leap of faith on our parts to give our portions away trusting that our Heavenly Provider would not keep us in want.
Giving is not just about tangible resources. Even when we are required to spare time to visit somebody who is in need while twenty four hours seem to fall short for our personal responsibilities or to shower love on somebody when our own hearts are craving for love and affection or to understand someone’s viewpoint when we ourselves are looking for someone who would understand us – these are acts of giving when it pinches. And trust me, it is easier to give tangible resources, but difficult when it comes to imparting intangible valuables like time, love, affection, understanding, kindness, tolerance and all you can think of in this genre.
The wise words I heard that day have redefined my attitude towards giving.