Keep the balance

Learning to give is a gift in itself. But so is the natural joy of learning to receive. The Puritan ethic of self-sufficiency, however, combined with the Biblical teaching that "with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27), could possibly lead people to think they have to do it all—for themselves and for others. And that being giver is more important (maybe even holier) than receiving.

Mary Baker Eddy lifted this matter and set it squarely beyond material giving when she wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes,—Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply" (p. 206). According to Christian Science, God's creation, including each individual daughter and son, is spiritual, already complete.

Jesus' familiar tale of the good Samaritan, from the Gospel of Luke, demonstrates quality giving and provides guidance for human relationships. The necessary complement to grace-impelled giving is gracious receiving. Complement means, "something that completes or perfects." Obviously, without someone to receive his unselfed tenderness, the Samaritan's willingness to care would have been meaningless. Nor would the innkeeper and his guests have had the opportunity to witness and be moved to their own good actions. It's impossible to calculate how many lives the kindness of a modern-day Samaritan will touch—or how many lives Jesus' story continues to influence.

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January 24, 2005

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