We’ve all heard the phrase, “give and forget that you have given,” but have you ever actually tried it? It’s no easy task. As human beings, we exist in relationships with others. It’s natural to expect a “thank you” for a kind deed, or for someone to return a favor. Even the Golden Rule, which tells us to “treat others as you want to be treated” implies an expectation of reciprocity.
So why is this idea of giving and forgetting so important? Is it even possible?
Father Moon taught that “To occupy love, we need to give and forget what we have given, and give again and forget again,” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 92). Jesus, too, tells his followers in Matthew 6:3: “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” instructing them to give in secret. We are not only asked to give, but to give without any expectation of return, acknowledgement or accolades.
We all know that giving is important, but giving in secret seems to be on a whole other level. Try it this week, especially if you’ve never done it before. Give an anonymous donation, or clean up the local park. How does it feel? What do you think this practice is meant to teach us?
Love Given, Expands
Father Moon further explains in this passage from the Cheon Seong Gyeong that love can only exist in relationship with others. In order to have love, there needs to be another person with which to share that love. “Why do you have to have such love?” he says, “Because the more love moves, the more it expands, rather than diminishes.”
Most of us experience happiness at making someone else happy, and in that way happiness is multiplied. Similarly, even in times we give in secret, we will feel a sense of accomplishment at being able to love and serve others, even without them knowing.
We Resemble God When We Give Unconditionally
Sometimes the deed is its own reward, but what about the times when it’s not so easy to give? We may often feel that we deserve to be acknowledged, only to be disappointed when our efforts are overlooked.
God Himself is the ultimate example of unconditional giving. As Father Moon says, “God began His creation from His own essence, giving and giving for the sake of love and forgetting about it.” To walk in those footsteps is no small task, and yet it is what we are asked to do. He goes on, “Therefore, if God’s partner is to receive, he likewise must pour himself out.” Probably more often than not, God receives little praise or return for all of His investment, yet He continues to dish out an endless source of love.
As human beings, we are meant to be the receiver of God’s love, but we are also meant to resemble God in the way that we give. In Luke 6:38 Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Here, we see that Jesus says we can expect something in return, but it’s not what we get from the other person—our reward comes from God.
The Spirit of Giving Comes from Knowing our Value
If God is an infinite source of love, and we are connected to that source, then there is no need to seek reward from others. As Father Moon put it, “A human being is a symbol of the love of all creation, a being who has appeared as a central point and who can beam light like a lighthouse. That is the kind of beings we are.”
When we think of ourselves in that way, as the symbols of the love of all creation, then giving without expecting becomes natural. Imagine what a difference it would make, if we thought of ourselves as a lighthouse, from which God’s love is always beaming? When our value and worth are attached to God, and not to material possessions or the actions of others, it becomes much easier to give without expecting anything in return.