I saw my neighbor snipping buttons off a pile of shirts. She explained she was giving the shirts away. I wondered how useful a button-less shirt would be to someone! Then she explained that the buttons were an expensive component of the shirt, but when compared with buying a new one they would be a negligible expense for the recipient. Her household operated on a tightly stretched budget. She cared about others and wanted to share what she could, but she felt she really needed those buttons.
There are many laudable ways to give for the benefit of others. But there’s also a lot of disagreement as to what constitutes the best style of giving. Some say to give too little is harmful. Others say the same about giving too much. Is it too much to hope for a solution to the dilemma?
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of a Biblical law that relates to charitable giving.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” II Corinthians 9:7-11 NIV
To me, Paul points out that mindful giving with the heart engaged works best for everyone.
During a period of severe drought, God directed the prophet Elisha to pass by the home of a widow woman and ask for food and drink. When he did, she replied that she and her son didn’t have even enough flour and oil to bake bread for the two of them. She was at the end of her rope.
But Elisha didn’t back off from his request. He still urged, “Fear not… make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and afterward make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel: ‘The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.’” I Kings 17: 13,14
Elisha knew the divine law of giving. From the infinite resource of divine Love, we all have the capacity to give. God provides all things necessary for his creation to thrive. No one is left out. Mary Baker Eddy explained, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” The widow prepared Elijah’s meal and, instead of running out, her family was blessed with ongoing provision.
Divine Love and its benevolent power is never absent nor inactive. Man as the image and likeness of God has the right and ability to reflect God's abundant benevolence in cheerful giving.
God never withholds good from His children. We can each cultivate a deeper understanding of God and his law of unfailing divine good.
Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Wholly apart from this mortal dream, this illusion and delusion of sense, Christian Science comes to reveal man as God’s image, His idea, coexistent with Him — God giving all and man having all that God gives.” The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, 5:7-10
So to the question, Should you keep the buttons? Knowing yourself as the abundant reflection, the image and idea, of the divine Love that is our benevolent God, you will find your way to how best to help others. And in so doing you will also help yourself.
Georgia Bulloch, CSB is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher based in Houston, Texas. She welcomes your comments below and can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no