The Mathematics of Giving

Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” — Acts 20:35

When material gifts are shared, they are divided and diminish. That is why people are selfish—if I share with you, then there will be less for me. For most things, this is an illusion for us living in an overly abundant and affluent society.

When spiritual gifts are shared, they are multiplied. They are always multiplied beyond the original sharing of the gift to affect many, many other people, much like the ripples in a pond. Sometimes it takes a splash from a rock, but most of the time, all is needed is a gentle caress of the water to cause a ripple that spreads outward to touch others.

Material gifts are very important, but they are temporary. Spiritual gifts last forever.

Material gifts may be life supporting. Spiritual gifts are always life giving.

Both types of gifts cost something—a sacrifice. Material gifts require a material sacrifice. For spiritual gifts, the cost is risk: a risk to reach out, a risk to touch and to be touched, a risk to hope, a risk to love.

Both material and spiritual gifts involve love:

All love is expansion; all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives; he who is selfish is dying. Therefore, love for love’s sake, because it is the law of life, just as you breathe to live.

— Swami Vivekananda (via whiskey river)