A couple of weeks ago, I was contemplating an act of giving, an idea that had come into my heart. I was in the process of thinking that the idea was too extravagant, too unnecessary—in short, talking myself out of it—when a friend stopped by to deliver dinner.

My wife was sick at the time. She’s better now—but on that night, this friend thought that providing our dinner would help our evening go easier. Just like that, she showed up with this gift, while I happened to be in the midst of a thought about giving.

And in my own internal response, I saw a glimpse of the larger reason for why we give. The effect goes beyond the recipient. The act of giving is able to tip scales, to propel love forward, and to reshape decisions to an extent that surpasses what the giver is able to know. Because of the way it affirms and uplifts human beings, because of the way it awakens them from out of their guardedness, selfless giving is probably the greatest power that we humans are given to deploy.