“Thus may each one of you be even as a candle casting its light, the center of attraction wherever people come together; and from you, as from a bed of flowers, may sweet scents be shed.” –‘Abdu’l-Bahá

A Life of Generous Giving 

Our Giving Nature

“To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine,” wrote Bahá’u’lláh, “well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.”1

Just as a candle’s purpose is to provide light, the human soul was created to give generously. We fulfil our highest purpose in a life of service, in which we offer our time, energy, knowledge, and financial resources. “[Y]e must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom.”2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written, “…the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good.”3 Of course, striving to serve humanity is full of challenges, and pursuing such a life of service implies that one must at times be willing to accept some hardship. Yet to sacrifice in this way is not a cause of sorrow; rather it is a bearer of joy—it involves accepting a degree of discomfort for the wellbeing and happiness of others, renouncing that which is lower for that which is higher. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated, “dying to the self” enables “the radiance of the living God” to “shine forth”.4

The impulse to give springs forth from the love of God. As this love fills our hearts, generosity comes to characterize the pattern of our conduct; when we serve others for the love of God, we are neither motivated by the hope of recognition and reward nor by fear of punishment. A life of service to humanity implies humility and detachment, not self-interest and ostentation. “[g]ive me Thy grace to serve Thy loved ones,” states a well-known prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Give me to drink from the chalice of selflessness; with its robe clothe me, and in its ocean immerse me. Make me as dust in the pathway of Thy loved ones”.5

Bahá’u’lláh counsels us with the following words: “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”6

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