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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « A Gift for the One Who Has Everything | Bloom Where You are Planted »
    Wednesday
    Sep152010

    The Idolatry of Charity

    For many of us, it is easy to love or at least have compassion, on people who are hurting and in need. Sometimes we are willing to do truly everything in our power to help them. And therein lies the problem.

     

    We can get so caught up in the moment, so high on the nice feelings that come with sharing and helping others, so full on the words of gratitude and praise from those we are helping (or those who are representing those we are helping), we end up loving people above and beyond God. It is quite easy to fall into this trap, and plenty of people (yours truly, included) have done so.

     

    This poses an interesting conundrum. God commands His people to help and love one other as if they were helping themselves (Luke 10:27). Jesus set an example by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, giving money to the poor, teaching, and comforting people. The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books all detailing God’s love for people.

     

    But something changes when we cross that thin line and cease to ask God what He specifically wants us to do. This is a tricky place to be, because while God has outlined and exampled the basics (take up the cause of the widows and orphans, visit those in jail, give to the needy, etc.), it is my opinion that He wants us to inquire the details.

     

    For example, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to currently support the needy. Since we are using God’s funds, does it not make sense He would show us exactly how to use them? And perhaps He wants to show you a whole new way to help those in need. Be careful however, that “waiting on the Lord” does not become an excuse for inaction. 

     

    Many times though, we instead slip into the automatic assumption that whatever we do “for God” must be what He wants, especially if it seems “blessed” by increasing numbers or finances (While I do not believe this is always the case, I would propose that increasing numbers of people and finances may actually be a sign what you are doing/preaching is “tickling the ears” (2 Timothy 4:3) of those you are ministering to).

     

    You may be sincere and well-intentioned, but these do not necessarily denote truth. Words and phrases such as “reclaiming things”, “giving gifts”, or busying ourselves with works “for God” should be examined for truth. Check your heart and actions through humble prayer (not self-examination) to God. Good works, while essential to our faith, are not the means of salvation.

    

    Let us be cautious not to make loving or caring for people more important than loving God. As Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me" (Matthew 26:11). While we now do have constant access to God, the sentiment remains. The needy are important, but not more important than God. The above passage, Luke 10:27, says this in full,

    "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

     

    It is significant that loving God fully comes first in that passage, for we cannot fully love others until we have been fully filled with God's love. It is in fact idolatry to place anything or anyone above God, His commandments, His timing, His will, and His relationship with us.

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