Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics in Dallas, Texas, is as well known for her charitable giving to worthy causes as she is for her fabulous business success. She gives out two golden shovels, fastened together; the small one symbolizes the way we give, and the larger one symbolizes how God gives. Her observation is, “You can’t outgive God.” The result of this thinking is that even though we cannot outgive God, we can certainly outgive ourself. We can go beyond the level of our previous giving, regardless of how much we have given.
Scripture says, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Over and over we hear that giving makes it more possible to receive. The purpose for which we give is vital. To give with secret hope of reward is in direct opposition to the law of love. When we give from a heart of love that simply must give because it loves, we are expressing unconditional love. True giving, with no strings attached, manifests love. Through true giving we express our love to others, and when we give in this manner we gain in understanding. Those who do good do well.
In the Holy Land, there are two seas—the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee has both an inlet and an outlet. The water that circulates through it is fresh and sweet, and marine life, both flora and fauna, abound in its depths. The Sea of Galilee is fertile and productive; and by giving of the fruits of its being, it supports the entire surrounding land and the multitudes who rely upon it for nourishment and refreshment. The water of life circulates through the Sea of Galilee and flows on into the Dead Sea, which portrays a direct contrast to the Sea of Galilee.
The water of the Dead Sea is brackish and dead. It is stagnant because, even though it has an inlet that receives the fresh water of the River Jordan, which flows through the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea has no outlet. It only receives; it does not give. Therefore, it cannot flourish. The surrounding desert area is also sterile and lifeless. The business man who seeks to give most to his customers will gain more customers and do well in his profession and in prosperity.
The activity of giving is part of the law of cause and effect. Giving (the cause) prompts circulation (the effect). It is the returning energy of circulation that brings our increased abundance. In helping others, we help ourself, for whatever mood we send out completes the circle and returns to us.
“Every good act is charity,” says Mohammed Mahomet. “Your smiling in your brother’s face is charity; an exhortation of your fellow-man to virtuous deeds is equal to alms-giving; your putting a wanderer in the right road is charity; your assisting the blind is charity; your removing stones, and thorns, and other obstructions from the road is charity; your giving water to the thirsty is charity. A man’s true wealth hereafter is the good he does in this world to his fellow-man. When he dies, people will say, ‘What property has he left behind him?’ but the angels will ask, ‘What good deeds has he sent before him?’”
Giving and receiving has to do with every area of life, not just money and other tangible or material goods. In a much larger sense, giving has to do with our health, happiness, and overall well‑being. Does your being not sing when you give from the love within your mind and heart? Is there not a spring in your step and a light in your eyes when you have helped another—just from the sheer pleasure of helping? And perhaps especially if you did your good deed anonymously!
From the Talmud we are told, “There are ten strong things. Iron is strong, but fire melts it. Fire is strong, but water quenches it. Water is strong, but the clouds evaporate it. Clouds are strong, but wind drives them away. Man is strong, but fears cast him down. Fear is strong, but wine allays it. Wine is strong, but sleep overcomes it. Sleep is strong, but death is stronger, but loving kindness survives death.”
Ruth Stafford Peale defines giving in this manner: “Giving is using what you have, both time and resources, for the benefit of others, without regard to the consequences to yourself. This giving is uniquely human and, most certainly, spiritually motivated.” Mrs. Peale identifies three areas of giving: charity, philanthropy, and volunteerism. Charity is giving away a portion of what you have for the benefit of others. Philanthropy involves the giving of private or corporate wealth to projects or individuals. And volunteerism is the giving of time to charitable causes and involves working with essential tasks such as teaching illiterate adults to read, mentoring a juvenile offender, assisting in relief agencies, or nursing AIDS babies.
Right now is a wonderful time to be alive, and an especially exciting time to be involved in giving. The opportunities for giving opening before us on a personal, as well as global, scale are unprecedented. Look around you and find an emerging core need of someone and reach out to help. Think about this principle taught by Jesus when his disciples asked him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in or naked and clothe you?” . . .The King will answer and say to them, “assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:37–40).