I want to recommend this book. It will be for most, the most challenging thing you’ve ever read on the topic of compassion and charity. It investigates the nature of charity and giving from a biblical, and practical ‘on the ground’ aspect. If you are fan of short term missions, humanitarian projects, and have been curious about the real effects upon those receiving help, read this. It relates not only to international missions, but local projects as well.
I’m re-invigorated to give with Christ’s love, with justice AND mercy, empowering people to become what God designed them to be. Giving with the full intent to bless the recipients most pressing needs, and not my own temporary satisfaction. Powerful little book, and not too big:)
Here’s a little quote from the book that cut like a knife, and caused me to think again upon the things we are actively doing in the lives of the needy:
“It is important that giving be truly free. It must never degenerate into charity, in the pejorative sense. Alms-giving is Mammon’s perversion of giving. It affirms the superiority of the giver, who thus gains a point on the recipient, binds him, demands gratitude, humiliates him and reduces him to a lower stat than he had before.” Jacques Ellul
The most pressing ‘need’ in our world, even among the poorest of poor, isn’t always money, but time. We give our money because it’s easier. Charity in this sense, without the investment of our time (lives), dis-empowers and does little lasting good.
I’ve been thinking about how God has loved and given us His Son. How this ‘charity’ isn’t at all like the kind we give when we drop a buck in a beggars coffer. His cost Him greatly. He gave to restore, He looked upon our greatest need for all eternity, not just the urgency of the moment.
God didn’t love us out of pity. Pity gives us the picture of the supreme looking down upon the lowly. Rather Jesus stooped down first before He picked us up. He didn’t leave us, but crowned us with His name, cleansed us, and called us into his family. We’ve been gowned with righteousness, we’ve become part of the Divine family. O how our God can give!
Make us all be givers like you Lord, and this world will know that you are here! Help us rise above giving ‘for’ instead of ‘with’ people. Forgive us for giving for our own give, our own reward, and not looking to the highest good of those in need.