On several occasions I have written about giving to those in need. I’d like to talk about why I do.
There was a time within my life when I was extremely greedy. I didn’t have any compassion for others and, to me, the world really owed me. In my eyes, since I had endured so much pain and suffering against my will throughout my early years, I was entitled. I would, indirectly, demand to be respected. I was spoiled. It was my ways, my views, my ego, my walls that were built to keep others out of my “nearly perfect” space, that were of importance. My early twenties especially revolved around myself. I had to build this great selfish utopia in order to feel good about myself. If it hurt someone else, it didn’t matter. As long as I was okay.
When my grandfather was on his deathbed, he forgave me for some pretty shady stuff I had done to him and my grandmother. Even after showing me such compassion, I disregarded my own desire to show much. I was still a self-absorbed, righteous and pretty arrogant young man. I had a good support system when it came to being financially sound. I had a job making good money, I did not have to pay any bills besides a vehicle loan and insurance, and I had a father and stepfather to use when I felt that I needed more.
I know that growing older and having a family of my own has taught me to be more compassionate towards others. My need to be in control which started way back in my late teens, possibly earlier than that, had carried over into the developing person I have become within the last several years. I really got a good taste of just how destructive the lack of compassion and the need to control can be. It was through a toxic church experience that sent me into a battle I was not prepared to fight. I know now that God knew what was best through this challenging experience.
Our pastor was just like me; controlling. Demanding. A big ego powered his manipulative ways within the religious cult that he so proudly led. I became one of the brainwashed men of young faith who thought that his ways were good. I suppose my own ego fed off of his? I soon began to see how the affects of that denominational lie were killing my understanding of the Lord, my family and my compassion.
We left that place of lies. Unfortunately, I took the control with me. I was now using the Lord as a new tool to control.
Soon after, the Lord had another lesson planned. My wife left. Her and the kids moved away. It was during that time that I had many breakthroughs. I was fighting a terrible addiction which had me in chains for many years. I conquered that while she and the kids were away. I researched His Word and studied without an organizational influence during that time. Praise God for His truth, and not what men will tell you for their own gains! During that time, I received the proper treatment for my depression. During that time, I was able to recognize just how selfish, controlling and inconsiderate I truly was. I was able to see just how forgiving the Lord is. I was able to understand just how wonderful it is to give instead of getting.
I know that it was during that time alone with myself, the Lord and my growth that started this new thinking. I have had many ways within that showed compassion towards others throughout my life, but honestly, it was always accompanied by a tit for tat mentality. I did it for you, now what will you do for me?
I soon learned a lot about grace. Unmerited favor. Compassion towards others, even though they can’t give anything back. That’s a huge part of the Gospel. If we are to love God with everything that we are, and to love our neighbor equally, and if Jesus had emphasized the importance of these two commandments, then we must do everything we can as His children to let those things reside within our heart.
Was I doing this by controlling, showing little compassion and only thinking of myself?
My father instilled something positive within me when I was living with him for a short time around the time I was eighteen or nineteen. He told me that I should be doing something “useful” with my money. He knew the carelessness and the looseness of my spending habits. He had suggested I send money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
I sit and look at the little faces on the papers that are still sent to me all of these years later. Unlike the times when I was first receiving them, I now have a deep compassion for these little babies!
Every month since those days when my father had suggested I do something other than spend my money on myself, I have been giving to the innocent children fighting diseases. It is this little reminder that has recently shown me that I have always had a part of God within, even though my flesh had buried it under the layers of pride for so many years.
I want to make something clear. It is something that I learned while attending that toxic church, and something that really spoke to me when doing a deep study.
Giving to the Needy
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. -Matthew 6:1-4
Today, I am not placing my compassion for others within posts for recognition. I also want others to see how the wrong motive of displaying your gifts to others brings no glory to God, but only glory to self. I am writing about the giving to others because I truly want everyone to know how it does bring honor to the Lord.
We are called to serve. We are called to make disciples, everywhere. We are called to show compassion, mercy, grace and love. We are called to always think less of ourselves and more of the other. That’s the true Gospel message. He laid down His life so we may have life. Shouldn’t we always be thinking about what we can give, even though we may never get anything in return?