It is said that giving is its own reward. But are there ways to give to others while getting something spiritual back? This week's clergy discuss how giving can be a boon to the giver as well as the receiver.
Samantha's Li'l Bit of Heaven, Northport:
Feeding their spirit with love, care, hope and prayer are gifts that cost you nothing and can mean everything to that person in need.
Your heart When someone is struggling, they need to know someone truly cares about them. What better way to reflect God's character than to love them (John 13: 34-35)?
How can you show love? Through your words and actions.
Care/encouragement They need to know they have worth and value. Their situation does not define them. They are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Speak life to them. Some people have never had a kind word spoken to them.
Hope Scripture tells us that hope deferred makes a heart sick
(Proverbs 13:12). When one is in need, it is so easy to believe that things will never change and that it will always be this way. They need to be reassured that this is just a season.
Build their faith Give them
vision. (Proverbs 29:18)
Prayer Pray with them and for them. There is power in prayer
(Matthew 18:20). It can change hearts, minds and situations.
A Bible There is no greater gift than God's word. It is his love letter to us. It is filled with wisdom and holds the answers to all of life's questions. Scripture can change their lives in ways they could never think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)
Cantor Harris Cohen,
Mastic Beach Hebrew Center /
Congregation B'nai Shalom, Mastic Beach:
It is true that most of us only think about the tax benefit we get from donating. And we often don't even meet the person who is benefiting from our giving.
But, if you have the chance to exchange goods and services with an individual, you have to do it with the right attitude. Don't give it to them with the attitude that you're giving to the poor and homeless. Don't treat them like they're poor or homeless. When you talk to them, add words of encouragement. Ask: "Is there any way I can help you get your life going in a different direction?"
At the end of the conversation, ask yourself: "Did I leave them further down the path [toward something better] than before the conversation?" "Did I say something impactful enough to help them?"
The Torah speaks of giving without any expectation of getting anything in return. That is how we should give.
If you have the opportunity to meet someone to whom you're giving something, listen more than you speak. Listen not just to what they're saying, but their body language. Really hear them. This is true in any conversation.
A lot of time, giving is more for the giver than for making the receiver feel better. We have to give for the right reasons and with the right attitude.
Pastor Craig Procida, pastor and warehouse manager, Lighthouse Mission Inc., Bellport:
The first thing you can give to someone in need is your time, your caring. The people who are needy know they're needy. You can reach out to them with a sense of compassion. It is too easy to become desensitized to those in need. We can shut out the world. The needy are there. God allows them to be there for a reason. God tests us and the compassion in our hearts.
I think of Matthew 25 (34-46), especially at the end when Jesus says that what you did for the least among you, you did for me.
My greatest concern as a minister and as a Christian man is what is their relationship to God. What are they thinking? How are they living? You can be rich in material things and poor in spirit. Everyone is needy in some way. We all must remember that God supplies to those who open their heart to him.
So, when you give, give with a compassionate heart and try to put yourself in their place. Understand a little of what they must be going through.