While living in Gambia, West Africa, my five-year-old son Chris and I went on a trip to the village of Sintet, where our group of volunteers from the Family International was helping to build a school.
I had enjoyed the thrilling tales told by co-workers who had returned from there, so when I heard that a team needed to make a one-and-a-half-day trip to the village I jumped at the chance to go.
When someone asked Jesus what was God’s greatest commandment, He replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”1 As far as God is concerned, love is the supreme virtue. Love is the most important thing. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect; He doesn’t ask us to be free from mistakes; He doesn’t ask us to do great things that the world will hear of. He just asks us to love others.
While rushing to an appointment, I passed a scruffy beggar with a baby in her arms. It’s a common sight in Caracas, Venezuela, where this took place.
Give her something. I recognized that inner voice as Jesus’.
But she looks like she would spend it on drugs, I protested as I kept walking.
Well then, buy her some food.
Just then I came to a hot dog stand. Okay, I’ll do it for You.
For an increasing number of us, financial troubles are precariously close to home. With businesses and financial institutions failing daily, it’s no wonder so many worry that their own livelihoods or homes are at risk.
In such times of trouble and uncertainty it’s natural to worry about your own family foremost. If until recently you’ve been supporting your church or various charities, now, with gloomy future prospects, perhaps you question whether such giving makes sound financial sense.
The answer is that if you want God’s blessing, then giving is still definitely in! “God loves a cheerful giver”1 is one of the pillars of God’s financial plan. In fact, God’s way to plenty is to give it away.
Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.
—Attributed to John Wesley (1703–1791)
There is a wonderful law of nature that the three things we crave most in life—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained by giving them to someone else.
—Peyton Conway March (1864–1955)
“Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”If there was anyone who knew all about that, it was probably Mother Teresa. After having lived among the poorest of the poor in India for nearly 30 years (and she would continue to do so for nearly 20 more), she was awarded the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She began her acceptance speech with the words, “Life is life.” She went on to explain that all human beings are special and of great worth, no matter who they are, and that only when we have learned to respect that fact can we begin to help them improve their lives.
Just one more day. Just one more day, I kept telling myself as I made my way down a dusty path to the hospital entrance. It was still early morning, but I could feel the sun beating down on the back of my neck. My arms ached from the weight of the large box of medicine and other supplies I was carrying. It was the fifth and last day of a free medical project in a rural area of Nigeria, where other members of the Family International and I were assisting a team of volunteer doctors and other medical professionals. After four very long days on my feet and with little sleep, I was irritable and ready to go home. Walking past the long lines of people who had come for treatment—many having arrived before dawn—all I could think of was taking a shower and getting a good night’s sleep in my own bed. Just one more day. I can survive one more day.
You may have noticed the contented aura, even radiance, of people who make it a habit to give.Whether it’s time, money, help, friendship, or encouragement, they always seem to not only be content themselves, but to have enough to share with others. Jesus explained how this can be so: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)
If we give to others, yield to their wishes to make them happy, or put their needs above our own, we can sometimes feel like we’re losing out. But we’re not really. God sees such unselfishness, and He will reward it. You never lose by giving.
Question: How can I cope with the extreme loneliness that I feel?
Answer: If you’re lonely, you’re not alone! Many people today are lonely—especially in cities, where life has been aptly described as “millions of people being lonesome together.” Just living in the middle of a lot of people won’t necessarily relieve loneliness, because loneliness comes from being insulated from others, not only isolated. And sad to say, it is often self-inflicted. People build walls around themselves instead of bridges. So what is the cure for loneliness? Loving others. Consider this true story:
At a primary school, during their weekly class on morals, some first-grade students were asked to finish the story of the hard-working ant and the lazy grasshopper in the way they thought would be best.
Most of us know this story—one of Aesop’s fables—of how the Grasshopper wasted the summer months playing his fiddle while the Ant labored hard storing food for the winter. When cold finally came, the industrious Ant and his friends were all safely tucked away with all that they would need, while the Grasshopper was left to search for food and found himself dying of hunger.