By Prentice Mulford

The Act of Giving

“No real or lasting good comes of any gift bestowed on another unless the heart goes with it, and its bestowal is to the giver an act of unalloyed pleasure. Because something else goes with the material gift, the food, the shelter, the loan, which though not seen, and little known, is more important than the form itself. That is the thought that goes with it, which thought strongly affects, for good or ill, the person who receives the gift.

The Thought Counts When Giving

If, as giving within your means, you bestow the merest trifle in money upon a person in need, and the thought that goes with it is not only the most sincere desire to help that person, but you feel a keen sense of pleasure in giving any such help, then you throw upon that person a certain thought-element which will never leave them, and benefit them eternally and in proportion to the quality, power and force of your thought. Then you do far more than relieve their present physical necessity. You give them a certain amount of spiritual power.

Giving Seeds of Thought

Your wish that their power  may be so developed and increased as to enable them to live above beggary, and draw to themselves the goods of this earth (as all will and must, when grown to a certain stature in spiritual power), is a great help for them in time to acquire such power. You have sent and sewn in them a seed of thought which will take root and bear fruit at some period of their real or spiritual existence.

False Giving

But if you give grudgingly, if you give under any sort of compulsion, if you give food, shelter, clothing, money, anything, only because circumstances compel you so to do, or because people might talk unfavorably of you for not giving, or because other people are so giving, than your gift does relatively little good, no matter on whom bestowed, be it even mother, father, brother sister, son or daughter.

You relieve then only a physical necessity, and that only for a time You may possibly feed a body, shelter it, clothe it. But you do not, and cannot feed properly the spirit that uses that body if the thought going with your gift is is not that of the most perfect willingness and hearty pleasure in relieving that body’s necessities.

Negative Thought Bring Negative Results, Even in Giving

The grudging thought accompanying the gift, the thought common to that position when the recipient of the gift (no matter how near the relationship) is endured rather than enjoyed. The thought accompanying any gift to any person, or relative, that is given principally because custom and public opinion require it, or because of the recipient’s importunity is a great damage both to giver and taker.

Editor’s Note

This was written over one hundred years ago, but is just as true today as always. Perhaps even more so when we have people and corporations giving based not on the greatest need, but on who will give them the most publicity for the donation. It’s not giving when you expect something in return. It’s harmful giving when you give against your will because the negative thoughts that accompany the gift can harm the recipient.

In order to please SEO, I have added subheading that were not part of the original and broken some very long paragraphs into shorter ones. None of the authors words were changed.