As Yourself…

Being in a developing country, I see much work of charity going on around me.  As this pearl of the Indian ocean was affected by both war and natural disasters, more Non Governmental Organisations stepped in to help.  Churches from overseas started to raise funds in the desire to help in ways they could.  The local community spirit also contributed towards this.  As with any situation, where there are pros there are cons too, where there is good, there is evil.  Many people took advantage of the goodwill of others for their own gain under the mask of being outstanding citizens of  the community.  Their lifestyle improved rapidly – to the extent of what they had never experienced before when working in the corporate sector.

Another thing that was prevalent were the double standards that many who were either running or working in these charities assumed.  Here they were running around in luxury vehicles, clothed in expensive attire, clad with precious accessories and living in fancy homes.  Don’t take me wrong, I do respect the fact that a good home to have decent rest is important as much time goes on travel and to difficult places given the fact that they are not used to such lifestyles.  Being re-energised is important.  Luxury vehicles help to get rest in hectic travel schedules and allows transportation of relevant medication and mineral water so that the caretakers don’t fall sick – as their bodies are not used to such ‘harsh’ conditions.

However, I’m referring to the double standards here.  Many have different scales that they work on.  Often their dogs get more nutritional food in fancier serving dishes than their beneficiaries.  Once again I agree, we need to be mindful of the beneficiaries existing lifestyles and not try to raise it so much that they would be tempted to use ill gotten gains to maintain it so.  Giving a western diet to those living in the rural areas is absurd – as it is expensive, hard to obtain and also people who are used to having rice as their staple food do not feel content eating something else.  They feel they haven’t eaten if they haven’t had their rice.

Many people will ensure their clothing is of the best quality yet what they donate to charities are damaged or stained or perhaps even torn clothing.  Giving away used clothing is not a crime, but as long as the used clothing is still in a condition where you would continue to use it.  If it isn’t so, use it for rags or for craft work that can generate income for these under privileged people.  How can one claim to love the poor and needy, and raising funds for ‘their’ charities while they live an above average cushy / luxury life?  How can we expect pure love to pour out when the source of their love isn’t from the Heavenly Father.  We believers need to stay alert and examine our motives for each of our actions.  Why do we do the ‘good deeds’ that we do?

“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28).  It’s interesting to note the reason that Paul states as to why we must do something useful with our own hands!  To have something to share with those in need.

The second greatest commandment is very clear.  Not only are we told to love our neighbours, but we are given a condition alongside with it –  “AS YOURSELF” (Matthew 22:39).  What is the driving force behind our acts of love?  Is it the desire of name or recognition?  Is it to ease off guilt of a lavish lifestyle?  Is it to enhance one’s own lifestyle?  Once again let me clarify, Jesus clearly says whatever we leave behind for His sake will be given to us in hundredfold in this age along with persecutions (Mark 10:29-30).  (And not being granted that in this life doesn’t indicate sin or punishment but it would once again be in accordance to the purpose of each one’s calling).

God blessing us is one thing, but doing our acts of kindness so that we can be exalted and that the level of our lifestyles can be raised a notch or much more is another thing.  We ought to be vessels of love – God’s love.  God shows no discrimination.  If we are His vessels yielded to Him, His love will pour out through us… it won’t be our own doing.

The Bible clearly instructs us not to treat the rich and the poor differently (James 2).  If we truly saw each person as a creation of God (Genesis 1:27), formed by God’s own hands (Psalm 139) would we do so?

Whatever you do unto others ask yourself is this how you would do it for yourself?  Would you like to be given stained or torn clothing?  This standard needs to be extended not only in your deeds of charity but in how you love others.  I personally get defensive when people correct me or point things out that I’m doing wrong.  However, I do later take it to God’s Feet and ask Him to show me.  If I sense the person’s motives are misplaced – out of a superior attitude or to shift blame etc, I simply discard whatever has been told to me.  The enemy does like to condemn so we do need discernment.  On the other hand if the person has been someone to stick by my side and be a part of my life – rejoicing in times of joy and consoling me in times of trouble, then I know this person does have my best interest at heart.  Yet, I also need to be mindful that they don’t always see the whole picture, they don’t know what God is doing in my life and what God has been showing me.  That’s why I take it to God’s Feet so that i know when or when not God is speaking through another.

Anyway what I’m trying to get at is, whether they are right or wrong, I appreciate the love of my friends who do voice their opinions.  Yes I do snap at them more often than not, but I appreciate their understanding of my ‘reaction’.  Besides we don’t need to simply accept what another tells us.  We have to seek our Counsellor, the Holy Spirit to give revelation and insight.  Then the process of change takes a long time after accepting something that is wrong in our lives.

If we truly love our neighbour as ourselves, not only would we be doing acts of charity as we would do for ourselves, we would also be willing to express our opinions – to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)  If we are scared to tell them, we seriously don’t love them… Perfect love casts out fear.

Food for thought… We never know when situations can turn around… The news of natural disasters sweeping around the world in increasing measures should make us realise how vulnerable we all are, that we are indeed living in glass houses.  Today we could be the donor, tomorrow we could be the beneficiary… God humbles us so that we can depend on Him and not boast in the work of our hands.  And remember, we are called to work so that we have something to SHARE with those in need.

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