Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #90
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on September 27, 1975
You are depleted in the giving of a mere gift, but when you give in the spirit of love and service, you have transcended its material worth. You are then blessed through giving, and the other person is blessed through receiving. The tangible article is merely a vehicle through which this interchange takes place. Both of you are richer for the experience, and though the article may soon be used up and discarded, its blessing remains as a kind of soul-treasure never to be lost.
This is a divine law, very important to grasp. It is one of the great keys to happiness and success in life. Today there is a consciousness inbred into people through the subtle inferences along the way of their educational process. It is the stress of the importance of getting something out of life—be it satisfaction, happiness, entertainment, wealth or what have you. It usually implies obtaining the rewards of money, prestige, recognition and so forth. But the great problem is that most people put the cart before the horse. In other words, they think in terms of getting rather than giving, while the law is quite clear: Give and ye shall receive. We must come to know that.
I can remember one man who was out of work, depressed, frantic, too young to retire and lacking the financial security to support retirement. Yet, as far as the world was concerned he was too old to get a new job. He took a good look at himself and discovered that he was not really looking for work; he had merely been trying to get on a payroll to allay his sense of insecurity. So, he asked himself if there was not something he could do, somewhere that he could give something of himself. This was a new concept for him, giving of himself for free instead for monetary compensation. Anyway, he volunteered his services to a friend who was struggling to get a business started, asking for and receiving no pay. During a few weeks’ period he was able to donate a great deal of wisdom gained through experience and other help, so that the business righted itself and went on to do quite nicely. The other thing that happened was that this new activity opened a flow in his own consciousness. He became part of a giving process, and connected to or coincidental to it, he was led to a marvelous position as a consultant in his own field. The man discovered the wonder of giving, and it changed his life.
This calls to mind the scriptural story of a lame man who asked alms of Peter and John as they were going into the gate of the temple which was called “Beautiful.” Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I unto thee. Arise and walk.” At this the man found himself miraculously cured. “Such as I have give I unto thee.” That is the key. Do you give of what you have, whatever that may be? Do you give of yourself? In our times it is more than likely inferred, “Gold and silver have I much, so here is my generous gift,” or “Silver and gold have I little, so, sorry, I can’t give anything.” In both cases there has been forgotten the wonder of putting ourselves into the gift, of thinking of giving as a self givingness.
A gift of great financial value may be, indeed frequently is, an ego fulfillment, or it may have been pressured by conformity, or it may simple be considered as an investment. I wonder if we really give until we are sure that we “let not the left hand know what the right hand doeth.” Jesus instructs us, “See thou tell no man.” Nor should we expect any recognition. This sort of thing is challenging, of course, for a minister to handle. Money may well be needed for buildings themselves or expansion of various programs, so what does it really matter if some names are put up on the wall or if a special fuss is made over the donor? Sometimes it is very hard to stick to a principle, isn’t it? However, the principle is very exacting.
I remember this little couplet by John Bunyan, “A man there was and they called him mad, and the. more he gave, the more he had.” This is a principle, for giving creates a need, and by the vacuum law, the need draws the supply and draws it beautifully. Life always adapts itself according to the needs of a plant, an animal, or or a man through which it courses. The duck has webbed feet simply because he needs them. The polar bear has a coat of white fur because he needs it to be unseen in the arctic ice and snow. Bird eggs are elliptoid so that they will roll around in a circle and thus cannot roll out of the nest. The ditch digger develops bulging muscles because he needs them, while the clerk has scarcely any muscular development because he has no need for it. No strength comes until a legitimate need is set up, and more is used than is apparently to be had. Exercise actually tears down muscle cells, but it establishes a need for more strength, then strength flows into the muscles as a matter of course. Carry this principle over into the act of your giving.
There are times when you cannot find the help you yourself would like or really need, but the time never comes when you cannot give help to someone else. It is by such giving that you establish a need and thus open the way to receive. The little you can give is better than the much you would like to give. We are told that when we .give of what we have more will be added unto us, but if we withhold, fearing that our supply will be depleted or that what we have is of no value, then that which we have is of no value and will be taken away or rendered useless. Jesus says, “For unto every one that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance, but from him that hath not even that which he hath shall be taken away.” This is not God’s punishment, it is the divine law of increase in action. Everything increases and multiplies with use.
The giving of ourselves is another important facet of this principle. “Let your light shine.” Let your sensitivity to life express itself in kindness, in love, in understanding. Often our hearts go out to someone, but afraid of being misunderstood, we choke back the impulse to say what we feel. Some refrain from words of appreciation lest others become conceited; employers fear being asked for a raise or more time off. A tendency to be hypercritical comes from feelings of inferiority—it is an attempt to pull people down to our own level. But know the cosmic truth, that whenever or wherever anyone rises to greatness something great is fulfilled in us too. When you appreciate what other do, you become their equal. The most fortunate people in the world are those who have the capacity to appreciate others around them and all the other manifestations of their environment. How better can we get into this consciousness of giving than by taking the thought of Namaskar. “I salute the divinity in you.” Get the thought of sharing a bit of love, understanding, blessing, thoughtfulness with every person. Seek ways of actually helping; the little you do is better than the lot you say you wish you could do.
Giving the idea of peace and love and understanding is the greatest demonstration of the law of increase. Losing nothing and gaining much, when we get into this kind of consciousness of giving, it becomes a flow in our lives, and we find it easy to give our substance and our efforts and our time. We see a tremendous return because of the law of “Give and you will receive.”
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth