22 Aug 2014 by Lim Poh Ann-
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes we think success is about accumulating stuff. Or the good life is about being chauffeured around in a limousine and living in a mansion with servants at our beck and call.
Richard Carswell, a motivational speaker, has met many rich and poor people in the course of his travels to over 100 countries worldwide. Through it all, he concludes: Only those who make a unique and selfless contribution in life experience great joy and satisfaction.
True fulfillment comes when we give ourselves to others—and live for a cause that’s bigger than our dreams and desires.
Here are 8 reasons to encourage us to make giving a lifestyle:
Sign of maturity
As babies, we cry out for attention when we are hungry or wet. But when we grow up into adults or parents, we progressively shift from ‘getting’ to ‘giving’ mode.
The late Sir John Templeton, a billionaire investor, devoted millions toward increasing our knowledge of love through scientific research and education. Agape, he says, is “love that gives you joy and helps you grow by giving love. You don’t grow much by getting love; most growth in life is by giving love.”
Many have discovered that giving—not necessarily money—can be very fulfilling. For example, childless couples and single ladies have adopted children in order to love and nurture them.
A depressed person can experience great joy while serving the less fortunate. Even simple acts of love, like cooking a meal for others, can uplift the spirit. Self-pity takes a back-seat when the patient realises how blessed he is compared to others.
Reflects God’s heart
The Gospel is about God who loved us so much that He died on the cross for our sins. To achieve his mission, He became man, relinquishing his divine rights and privileges (Philippians 2:7).
What made Jesus choose the way of the cross? He took the path of self-denial because of the joy that was set before him (Hebrews12:2). He envisioned the day when many will enjoy restored relationships with God through his death (Isaiah 53:11).
As believers, is self-denial a part of our life?
When we give, we are responding to God’s command: “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38).
Due to different upbringing, temperament or circumstances, some may find giving more difficult than others. People may be willing to contribute their time and talents. But when it comes to money, some may have second thoughts. The wallet is often the last frontier of resistance.
But the God who loves us first makes things easier (1 John 4:10). Many believers can testify to God’s blessing and provision. His faithfulness tugs at our heartstrings and makes us want to obey Him.
Expression of faith
Faith has to be down-to-earth. It’s no use telling those without food and clothing, “God bless you, stay warm and eat well” without giving them these necessities. Faith without deeds is dead (James 2:15-17). We cannot love without giving.
Since giving honours God, He will ensure we are blessed for having faith in His promises. In fact, we are called to put God to the test—to see whether He will release showers of blessings from heaven (Malachi 3:10).
We are also told to honour God with the firstfruits of all our crops so that He will bless us abundantly (Proverbs 3:9-10). Not all of us are farmers so firstfruits may mean our first salary or first profit from our business.
Reflects good stewardship
How we give of ourselves to others depends on our gifts and talents. After exhorting believers to be sober and prayerful, Peter touched on the practical outworking of our faith—serving others, preaching and hospitality (1 Peter 4: 7-11).
Believers simply cannot say we have nothing to give for God has imparted something unique to each person. For example, those without the gift of preaching may excel in hospitality.
Some may be called to a ministry devoted to helping others—serving the disabled, prisoners, orphans, old folks, single parents or foreign workers. We may not be called into such specific caring ministries. Nevertheless, we need to be loving and kind.
Other believers may have entrepreneurial flair. These are the captains of industry. Bold, creative and decisive, these movers and shakers can set up deals through their connections with key people in business and politics.
Church ministries can be supported by tithing and special offerings. However, the mission of reaching cities and nations needs the resources from entrepreneurs.
Social transformation will need plenty of financial resources if it is to impact the nation in a big way. Wealthy businessmen can play an important role by building affordable housing, schools, colleges, orphanages and retirement homes.
Some entrepreneurs have the knack of creating jobs for the marginalised. They don’t just hand out fish but empower the poor by teaching them how to fish. Some even help them start small businesses by offering loans (micro-financing).
Helping others, helping ourselves
When we help others, we are also helping ourselves. Those in sales can readily identify with Zig Ziglar’s saying: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). Giving our time or money to the needy might seem wasteful, akin to throwing bread upon the waters, but we will be rewarded—though it may not be immediate. The generous man will be blessed because people naturally gravitate towards those who are willing to be spent for others.
Leaving a legacy
The man in the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) thought that hoarding was the best way to ensure a secure future. After a bumper harvest, he broke down his barns and built bigger barns to store grain. But he did not reckon that his life would suddenly come to an end.
Jesus called him a fool because he was covetous. He failed to grasp the fact that life is transient and that wealth is useless on judgment day (Proverbs 11:4).
We cannot bring our wealth with us when we pass away. But we can give it away to advance kingdom causes or help the poor, thus laying up treasures for ourselves in eternity. As Jim Elliot says, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
The above article was first published in Asian Beacon magazine, Aug 2014, issue 46.4
Management consultant Yeoh Seng Eng is passionate about creative livelihood programmes which help the poor move from dependency to dignity.
SALT AND LIGHT
What does having social concern mean? How can we be involved?
TEACH A MAN HOW TO FISH
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Based on this premise, social entrepreneurs establish businesses which enable the poor and marginalised to fend for themselves.
No doubt those in need deserve help for a season. But they should not continually lean on others for support. This is unhealthy as it encourages passivity and perpetuates a “dependency syndrome”.
NO FREE LUNCH
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
Christmas is about giving. We can give without loving others. But we cannot love others without giving of ourselves. Jesus loved us by giving away His life. The wise men presented meaningful gifts.
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Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (December 2008 – October 2011). He can be reached at his blog, Porridge for the Soul: http://limpohann.blogspot.com/