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

–Baha’i Faith

Last month we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King, who gave his life to the struggle for equality.

This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, which is for many an annual celebration of romantic love.

A complement to Valentine’s Day you may not be aware of is Single Awareness Day or Singles Appreciation Day. It is a celebration of love in all forms between friends and family and loving yourself. A common activity of Singles Appreciation Day is volunteering. In some parts of the world it is a day of love and friendship with secret friends being a favorite activity. Let’s consider reaching out beyond romantic love to give and be generous this month.

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.

“Ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom … 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.”

–Baha’i Faith

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.

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.

“Give me Thy grace to serve Thy loved ones . … 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. ”

–Baha’i Prayer

Bahá’u’lláh (prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith) 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. …”

There are many stories of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s generosity. I’ll end with a short one:

A friend had sent some fur so that ‘Abdu’;-Baha (Baha’u’llah’s son) could have a good warm coat. He had it cut up and made into 20 caps for the elderly men of the town.

– A vignette from “The Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Annette Reynolds has served in many capacities as a member of the Bahá’í Faith. She is the author of “Trudy and the Bahá’ís Spiritual Path in S.C.” and “Survivors Thrive: A view of the Battered Women’s Movement.” She is a member of the Morning News’ Faith & Values Advisory Board. Contact her and other board members at fvboard@florencenews.com.