Lessons for Life: Charity

John T Jones, Ph.D.

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The Purpose: To teach that charity not only takes care of the needs of people that receive it, but warms the heart of the provider.

The Lesson

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling bell. " Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.1

So What is Charity Anyway?

For our purposes let's say it is a benevolent good well toward all mankind that is reflected in our actions toward those who are in need.

Some say that charity is the true love of God.

Did you really say that, Margaret?

Margaret Thatcher said that nobody would remember the Good Samaritan if he had not had money.


Such a silly statement!

It's true that he went out of his way to see that the man taken by robbers by paying for his care after he got the man into town.

But that is not the real story of the Good Samaritan.

Do you remember the story?

A man was taken by robbers and lay on the road near death. A Priest passed by, feared for his own life, and took a wide birth of the man. So did a Levite!

The man robbed was a Jew. The Priest was obligated to help the man, but he didn't help him.

Now the Levites were to look out for the down and out. Right? They even had cities of refuge for criminals.

Because of fear and indifference, he hurriedly passed by.

Then comes the Samaritan who has nothing to do with the Jews. He goes out of his way to help the man. He gets him into town where he is safe.

We would remember him just for that, wouldn't we?

Of course we would!

He did what the Priest or Levite should have done.

That was the point of the story. So Mrs. Thatcher isn't so smart after all.

Yes, the Samaritan's money improved the robbed man's condition, but that is not what saved the man's life.

Test Question: Which of the three, the Priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan (not counting the fact that the Samaritan had some money), had charity?

If you said, the Samaritan, give yourself a gold star.

Yes, he had a benevolent good well toward all mankind that was reflected in his actions toward those who are in need.

Just hearing the story of the Good Samaritan makes you want to do the right thing. When we see the good acts of others, it influences our actions. When we show charity, it helps others to see their potential to help others.

You don't need money to be benevolent. A charitable act does not have to require money. In fact, most of the charitable acts we see are a simple offering of time and energy.

Let's say the snow is twelve inches deep. You shovel your driveway and then help the old fellow next door shovel his. Now what did you offer? Money? No! Just some time and energy.

What are the benefits of charity?

The main benefit is to the person receiving the service, right? It may be, but there is something in benevolence that warms your soul. You did the right thing. You helped someone in need.

Yes, Charity can require money or assets.

It's hard to help starving children in Afghanistan if you live in Florida. But you can through a charity that services those children by donating money or clothing or whatever is required.

You can rush aid to disaster victims by donating to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Habitat for Humanity is building homes right now in the Southeast where we have so much damage. I worked on four such homes in Arizona. I gave more time than money to Habitat for Humanity. Now that I live in Idaho, I haven't worked for Habitat. But now I hear they are going to build in our little town. I'll try to be there swinging my hammer.

Your church or community might have a program that allows you to make blankets, or health kits, or teaching kits. That way, you can put your energy and time to a good cause.

Society depends on your benevolent good will.

The government can't do everything, can they? Recently, we have learned that they don't even know how! They need our know-how and help in these tough times.

Governments doesn't provide men in trucks to rush around after a snow storm to shovel the walks of widows.

They don't send the food trucks up and down city streets to feed the homeless. They don't pass out warm sleeping bags to these people. (Some won't go indoors. )

No, we should do our part.

It's true, we can't do everything, but we can do something.

We may restrict our activities to our neighborhood.

We may expand our activities to the world.

It's up to each of us to decide what our resources and limitations are.

Many wealthy persons have created foundations for charitable purposes. These foundations are very important to society. They provide funding for charity, education, health services, museums, and a multitude of other purposes that benefit society.

Some wouldn't give a tinker's bell to a starving nun.

It's true that many who could make a difference in this world fail to give support where needed due to their own greed.

Now, Scrooge became a repentant man.

Yes, old Ebenezer Scrooge was a greedy critter that said, “Send the poor to the poorhouse! That's what they are for!”

Well, not exactly in those words.

He kept both hands on his purse less some poor soul needing a shilling or tuppence came by asking for help. He could use the purse to give the asker a whip across the face.

The Ghosts saved Scrooge

Scrooge saw the past, the present, and the future.

He saw his old partner, Marley, in chains!

He saw the straits of the Crockett family and Tiny Tim.

Scrooge changed his ways! Yes, he found Charity. Scrooge became a jolly old soul, tossing coins around like they were candy. He rejoined his family and blessed the Crockett family with food and help for Tiny Tim. Why, Scrooge couldn't have been happier!

And maybe, that is the greatest thing about Charity.

It brings happiness to those who practice it.

For The Little Children

Billy was in the first grade. He lived with his four sisters and his two brothers on the poor side of town by the fair grounds. It was during the Great Depression before World War II when men could not get work to feed their families.

Billy had a loving mother who made bread every other day. She always had a big pot of beans or a pot of soup on the stove. Billy's daddy was out of work, but friends from the church made sure that the family did not go hungry. These same friends made sure that the family did not suffer from the cold. They made sure that the family had wood and coal to burn in their stoves.

Some of Billy's friends made fun of Billy because the family was poorer than their family. Some men were able to keep their jobs, but Billy's daddy ran a lumber yard and when people couldn't afford to buy lumber, the lumber yard closed. His daddy was out of work.

Billy felt sad that his daddy couldn't get work and that some of the other kids made fun of him. Then one day, a friend of Billy's named Bruce invited Billy to come home with him after school. Billy went with Bruce to his house a few blocks away from the school.

When they got to the house, Bruce said, “Come on in!” Bruce walked across the rickety boards of the porch and into the house. The house was dark and cold. When Bruce turned on the light in the kitchen, Billy looked down at the floor and could see dirt between the boards.

Billy said, “Where is your mother and father?”

Bruce said, “Mother is at work. My father went away a long time ago. We don't know where he is. We think he jumped the train. ”

Billy knew the men that rode the train. Some called them bums or hobos. Billy often watched a hobo walk the two-and-a-half blocks from the tracks to his house. His mother always gave them bread and a plate of beans out the back door. If Father was home, he allowed the man to come in. Only one man was bad, and father sent him out the door with a stove poker.

The reason the hobos did not stop at the other houses was because they knew they would not be fed. Billy's address was written on a switch control box down by the tracks. The hobos would read the address and walk straight to Billy's house. They knew they would be fed there.

Billy felt sorry for Bruce and his mother, having no father to take care of them. Bruce opened the wood ice box. It was empty except for a metal bowl which had macaroni in it. The macaroni was as white as chalk. There was no cheese in it. Billy knew it had been cooked in water with nothing else added.

Bruce said, “Do you want some macaroni?”

Billy knew that there was hardly enough for Bruce. He said, “No, thank you. I'm not hungry. You eat it, Bruce. ”

Bruce wolfed down the macaroni like he was starving. Billy thought that maybe he was, he was so skinny. Billy felt so sad that he had to leave Bruce. He said, “I better be going home now, Bruce. My mother will wonder where I am. ”

When Billy got home, he was greeted by the warmth of the kitchen. Mother had made bread and there was the pot of beans on the stove. Billy knew that despite the fact that some of the other kids made fun of him for being poor, that he was rich indeed. He told Mother about how poor Bruce and his mother were. He knew that mother would try to do something about it.

What do you think his mother might have done?

(Yes, this is a true story. )


Copyright©John Taylor Jones, Ph. D. 2002-2005

John T. Jones, Ph. D. (tjbooks@hotmail.com) is a retired R&D engineer and VP of a Fortune 500 company. He is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering), poetry, etc. Former editor of international trade magazine. More info: http://www.tjbooks.com. . Business web site: http://www.bookfindhelp.com (wealth-success books)


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