Giving Freely

Hannah Whitall Smith wrote this meditation on GIVING.

Lately, my Father has revealed to me a depth selfishness in myself that I never even so much as suspected. I find that all my kindness to others, my benevolence, and what seemed to be the most unselfish acts of my life, all have had their root in a deep and subtle form of self-love. My motto has for a long time been “Freely ye have received, freely give” and I dreamed that in a certain sense I was living up to it, not only as regards physical blessings, but spiritual as well.
But I find now that I have never really given one thing freely in my life. I have always expected and demanded payment of some kind for every gift, and where the pay has failed to come, the gifts have invariably ceased to flow. If I gave love, I demanded love in return; if I gave kindness I demanded gratitude as payment; if I gave counsel, I demanded obedience to it, or if not that, at least an increase of respect for my judgment on the part of the one counseled; if I gave the gospel I demanded conversions or a reputation of zeal and holiness; if I gave consideration, I demanded consideration in return. In short, I sold everything and gave nothing. I know nothing of the meaning of Christ’s words “Freely ye have received, freely give.” But I did it ignorantly.
Now however the Lord has opened my eyes to see something of the nature and extent of this selfishness, and I believe He is also giving me the grace to overcome it in a measure. I have been taking home to myself the lesson contained in Matt. 5:39–48. I desire to do everything now as to the Lord alone and to receive my pay only from Him. His grace must carry on this work in me for I am utterly powerless to do one thing toward it, but I feel assured that He will.
And I feel have to thank Him for what He has already done. He has conquered a feeling of repugnance which was growing in me towards someone with whom I am brought into very close contact and enabled me to give freely, without even wanting any return. Oh, how great He is in strength and wisdom!
—Journal, January 16, 1860
Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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