On Faith: The laws of giving

We all tend to resist the practice of giving because so little is known about the laws that govern giving, except popular sayings like, it is better to give than receive; the Dead Sea is the Dead Sea, because it continually receives and never gives; as you give, so shall you receive.

This is not to say that people are not generous, especially when it comes to tipping or giving to great causes like cancer research or food for the homeless. All of these tug at our heart-strings and open up something within us that compels us to give back.

However, teaching people about giving and the spiritual principles that support the practice of the laws of giving has little to do with our emotional responses, and more to do with our spiritual understanding. The laws of giving are spiritual and, until they're fully understood, tend to make people uncomfortable and uncertain.

When it comes to giving, many have so often been manipulated by guilt and shame that they tend to tune out their spiritual leaders when invited to look into their hearts — and their wallets. Even those that are served by the laws of giving often are blind to the nurturing substance they are being fed.

How many times, when you've heard a great message that helped you solve a problem or put your mind at ease, have you — when asked to give — suddenly minimized your giving because you felt little or no need to give back in support of the spiritual food you received? After all, isn't this spiritual food free? If you're working for God, how could you ask for money?

Most people only feel the need for spiritual nurturing when they're in crisis. This is when people need love, compassion, and attention and they need it now, yet there are no fast food restaurants that can serve such a meal. But learn the law of giving and I guarantee you will never be hungry again, and you will never underestimate the importance of this meal.

I once heard a story about a man who is dying of thirst in the desert and encountered a man selling ties. He can see no reason to buy a tie, so he crawls over the next sand dune and sees a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

As he goes through the door expecting to receive a glass of water he sees the sign, "no tie, no service." I know, this sounds corny, but the message is real. If you don't know the laws of giving, you will eventually perish from a hunger and thirst that no food, money, or liquid will ever satisfy.

This is why the first law of giving is to learn how to give love, compassion and peace with no expectation of receiving anything but the satisfaction that you have it to give. Yes, that's right, love is your greatest asset and you have an unlimited amount you can give, and withholding love is not a spiritual strategy that will work.

Instead, you must learn what Catherine Ponder calls the mystic's three-point formula for success: purification, or cleansing; illumination, or getting guidance on how to be prospered; and Union with God and God's good.

To purify yourself means to put your life into spiritual order. It's a different kind of work, to clean out old patterns of thinking that have you trapped in behavioral molds that keep you in the loop of hopelessness.

To illuminate your thinking means you must learn how to think and not just what to think. You can't solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem.

To live in union with God, you must learn to change your mind and keep it changed. This is what makes the law so important. The law of giving is based on principles that guide your thinking and inform your behavior. The laws of giving will teach you how to love the life you've been given to live, and release any thoughts that would interfere with your complete success.

Want to learn more? On Sunday, go to our website, at http://www.cslnm.org, and watch my message on the laws of giving. .

JIM TURRELL is the founder and pastor at the Center of Spiritual Living Newport-Mesa.

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