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Charity….

October 19, 2009 — Leave a comment

Charity has always been an important Christian characteristic. Jesus was constantly giving of himself to others. Often times when he did it he said not to tell others about his act. His giving is the reason that we have salvation.  Jesus clearly expects us to also have charity, especially to the poor and needy.  Here is the verse we will use today to study this concept. 

Matt 6:2-4 NIV

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

In these words Jesus makes it clear that we are to give without bringing honor to ourselves. This is one of those places where He called some of the religious of his day hypocrites!  Calling church people hypocrites is a common occurrence in today’s church as well. Some of it is well founded; some of it is not. If we give to the needy in order to draw attention to ourselves Jesus says we are hypocrites! We should give so that even we don’t know we are doing it. I don’t know quite how that is supposed to work though 🙂 ? I think it is just human nature that we want others to know the good works we do. But, of course when we do that we might doing it mainly to boost our vane pride. By the words above Jesus says when you do that you have your reward already and don’t expect anything from God for doing it.  

As a personal note there is someone I have known most of the life that always makes their giving a very public event!  It was always very embarrassing to me to have to witness those acts and the praise they expected to be lavished on them. For that reason I have always tried to live by the red letters above even before I knew of their existence. But I do also often fail when I tell people of my charitable acts. I think I do this to encourage others to also give but maybe I am sometimes doing it to draw attention to myself. So, shame of me when I am a hypocrite with my giving. As the Apostle Paul says sometimes I just can’t seem to do what I know I should do.

The last sentence in these verses says that God will reward us if we give in secret. I’m not really sure just what that reward is? Will it be something in heaven or on earth?  I hope it is in heaven. I know there are Christians who are constantly saying things like “yesterday I gave $100 to the needy and today I received an extra $10,000!”. I have always been very uncomfortable with these types people. They seem to be very frequent in some Christian sects today especially among the televangelists. The main message it sends to me is when they do that is to say if you want to be rich then give to the Lord (or to the TV program you are watching). I don’t think that is really what Jesus meant in these verses.

Let’s all pledge to give more to the needy and to keep it a secret.

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I just wanted to make a quick post in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy.  It’s a shame that his life long passionate goal of making healthcare a right instead of a privledge for ALL Americans did not become a reality while he was with us. I know he was an honorable Christian and a good Catholic.   Here’s to you Ted I hope your dream becomes a reality soon. 

I know there are those out there who would like to trash his memory over issues you disagreed with him on. But, this is not the appropriate time and since I won’t approve them on this blog today, this is not the appropriate place.

Jesus clearly told us to be our brother’s keeper but somewhere along the way we Christians unapologetically shunned that responsibility. During the first three centuries Christians were very much their brother’s keeper. They often pooled their resources so that those most needy were taken care of. They not only cared for their own there is even documented evidence showing that they took care of those not even Christians.  But, of course, this is what Jesus did so they were just following his lead.

The vast majority of Christian congregations today spend about 95% of what they gather on themselves or their organization’s hierarchy leaving little for kingdom of God work particularly in the brother’s keeper area.  When that happened the moral goodness, which I believe to be also a gift from God to all humanity, dictated that the kingdoms of the world take over that task. Some do a much better job of it than others. The government of Sudan seems to totally reject the “brother’s keeper” mentality.  Many thousands die daily of starvation and political genocide. Whereas, thank the Lord, the government of the United States has generally taken up this task in our absence, at least to a partial degree. Or at least one of our political parties carries that mantle. 

Now I’m not saying that Christians do nothing in this area. Indeed some of the best humanitarian agencies in this area are Christian based. But, their total contributions is almost miniscule compared to the need. Having religious institutions take over all the care for the poor is probably now beyond the realm of possibilities so I guess we must depend on our governments to do that for us. They are instituted by God so I suppose you could say it is now their duty. To even suggest as some do that since we Christians won’t do it our governments should stay out of it also is a total affront to the teachings of Jesus. It is indeed a sad day that many Evangelical Christians seem to be saying that very thing today. Shame on us for shunning this compassionate responsibility!