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On Redefining 'Charity'

Blood:Water Mission launched their new website on World AIDS Day, along with a video that challenged my perspective on things. It's on the front page of the site.

I'll give you a minute to go over there and watch it.

Go. Shoo.


Alright, you watched it? Good.

B:W Mission raises something that, after thinking about it for awhile, I have realized aligns perfectly with my perspective. While I may use the language of "charity," it is not what I am about, at least not in the Americanized, 21st century sense.

"Charity," in America, has come to mean that part of our paycheck each month that can be deducted come tax time. "Charity" is that excess fund that you give away to make some people feel better. "Charity" is a way of separating yourself from the person it goes to. Unfortunately, for the majority of Americans, "Charity" is something expendable, disposable, the first thing to go if the budget becomes tight.

It's time that we take back Charity for what it really means.

For the people I know who do things like sponsor a child, donate to charities regularly, and spend their money trying to make the world better, charity is not simply throwing money at the problem. They have grasped the idea that Charity is not just spending your money on the less fortunate, but it's making a sacrifice so that you can. It's taking the time to realize that the less fortunate are your neighbors and friends, something you have heard me expound upon time and again in this space.

CS Lewis calls the love between God and Man "Charity" for a good reason. "Charity" is not merely throwing money at a problem; it is that self-sacrificing, self-effacing love that brings people together in the love of God. It is an effort to help those less fortunate that causes you to experience something more than just a smaller wallet in your jeans pocket.

We come alongside those less fortunate--we don't just hand them money and deduct it from our taxes. We travel across the world to see the situations of those poor people trapped in slavery--we don't just set up our credit card to have a certain amount coming out of our paycheck each month. We fast from food until $16,000 is raised--we don't just write out a check and move on. We motivate others to love as we love them. We become partners in the fight to help those who are suffering. We suffer with those who suffer.

That is the meaning of charity. While donations to charity are not bad things, there needs to be a level of consideration about what and why you are doing it. God does not function based on guilt; he works on the basis of love. When you consider charity, consider Paul's words to the Corinthians in his 2nd letter:

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

We must always approach what we do with the thoughts of love, of sacrifice, of what our motivation may be.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3: 20-21)

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