A Lifestyle Issue

“How blessed is he who considers the helpless.” Psalm 41:1 NAS

“Being charitable is not only an act of giving, charity is a way of living.”

My thoughts today are about “a lifestyle issue.”

Being concerned for yourself and those nearest you is a natural and responsible thing, but also presents a vulnerability as that regards those you do not feel close to, yet have very real and practical needs. It is easy to feel compassion for family and friends. You know them and feel comfortable with them, and you know that they also care about you and your needs. That makes it only natural for you to care about theirs.

But what about the needs of those you don’t know well or more likely do not know at all? Jesus challenged His followers this way, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there in that? . . If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? But you are to be . . as your Father in Heaven is . .” Matthew 5:46-48 The Message. Their needs, and their inadequacy to meet those, present a challenge in your shaping a lifestyle of charity and generosity.

At this time of year – Thanksgiving and Christmas – there are many requests by community organizations for you to remember those considerably less fortunate than yourself, and thankfully, there is usually a broader response to such appeals. But people’s needs are not limited to any one season of the year, or times when folks feel more like helping others.

There are some obvious challenges. The growing size of cities with the transience of people’s frequent moving works against the previous generations’ social inclination of neighbors helping neighbors. We usually do not know our neighbors, little more than anyone else you might meet on the street. We have become a community of strangers. Feeling compassion for strangers is that vulnerability of which I spoke. It is also easy to feel overwhelmed by people’s needs, almost becoming paralyzed by a sense of helplessness when exposed to the vast scope of world needs through instant and global media.

How can any one person make a meaningful difference? In a very real sense, one person is always the starting place where for any difference that is made. The greatest effect may begin when even one heart is moved compassionately. There is a small rhyme that I learned many years ago that seems appropriate to my thoughts today; “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do; and what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” Consideration precedes sincere compassion, and compassion releases meaningful contribution.

Being charitable toward others is not only an act of giving; charity and generosity is a way of living. Consider 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 KJV. Living charitably is more than only giving money to help someone – sometimes it may also be your practical gift of a helping hand, a kind gesture, an encouraging word, a bit of time and companionship, or expressing genuine interest and care.

Becoming sacrificial with yourself makes generosity with more practical things come easily. “Christ sacrificed His life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially . . and not just be about ourselves . . what happens to God’s love? It disappears and you made it disappear.” 1 John 3:16-18 The Message. This really is a lifestyle issue, isn’t it?

My prayer for you today is: let your lifestyle each day be a little more like Jesus.