Ben H. Swett
Temple Hills, MD
January 1991

Jesus said, "Give to every one who asks of you, asking nothing in return." He also said, "If you keep my commandments, you will learn the truth and the truth will set you free." Okay, let's test those two statements together. If you give to everyone who asks of you, expect nothing in return, and notice what happens next, you will soon have enough data to learn a truth about human beings: they don't all react the same way.

This is the normal distribution of human reactions to a generous person. It is a statistical truth, verifiable by personal experience. Learning this truth can set us free from the notion that all human beings are alike, from compulsions that lead us to pamper parasites and predators, and from the weary cynicism that hardens our hearts and keeps us from giving at all.

Knowing that this distribution is normal--expectable--is a mental tool we can put into practice. It is good to give in secret because advertizing our generosity attracts more parasites and predators. We usually do not know in advance how a person will react, but where one is in this distribution will eventually be revealed to us by what he or she actually does. Thus, we need to be wise as well as kind, but kindness comes first and wisdom second. "Give to everyone who asks" comes first, because we do not know how one will react. Then after we see what that one does, we are free to decide what we will do. We are not required to continue giving to parasites or predators--that is neither kind nor wise--but we should not let our own reaction to them stop us from giving to those who react in more positive ways.

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