Jesus never had much stuff. The Bible tells us that Jesus did not even have a place to call home (Matthew 8:20). But even though Jesus had little, he gave a great deal. And for the moment I am not even talking about spiritual gifts, although these were plentiful as well. Jesus gave away a great deal. He embodied true charity.
Now that is an interesting word. Charity. It’s still a common word even though it’s an old word. Although I think the concept of charity has changed a bit over the years. For many of us charity is a word used to define organizations that help those in need. We all have our favorite Charity that we give to at Christmas time. For those in the business world it is well know that many charities have 403(b) status and are tax free. Secretly this status is envied. For others charity is a word we use to describe rich philanthropists who give away millions. With just a few clicks on the internet we can find these charitable individuals and the amounts they donate. In fact many of us are secretly resigned to think that the only ones who are truly charitable are the wealthy. They are the only ones who make a difference because they alone can donate thousands, even millions to a cause.
But then we come back to Jesus.
How could he be charitable without having much to give away? The reality is many of us have a skewed perspective on what Charity actually is. Charity is not an action, per se. It is a mind set. I would like to propose that many wealthy people give lots and lots of money away without ever being charitable. Because to display charity an individual must be willing to get nothing in return for their gift, that is the true definition of charity. So, for example, Jesus was charitable when it came to healing the sick. Now not all of us can heal a blind man, but Jesus showed us that it doesn’t take a check book to be charitable. In fact, Jesus criticized a rich man who gave a small fortune to his local church because he gave without being charitable. He was giving the gift in order to be recognized. Instead of praising this man, Jesus praised a poor widow who gave much less than the rich man. She was praised because she was charitable.
I think we all need to reconsider what it means to be charitable. First, charity is not equal to wealth. Second, merely giving away also does not equal charity. But if these things are not charity what is?
Charity is the act of loving another as you would love yourself. It is giving without hope or expectation of return. No recognition, no reward, no tax write off, no secret personal benefit, nothing. Just the satisfaction of knowing you care for another. That’s it. Jesus was not concerned with his appearance or his take. In truth, he sometimes upset people with his charity. He offended those who were in it for themselves. But those who received the charity of Jesus were changed. They saw love for the first time. It was pure, unadulterated, and organic. Love without strings attached. And they liked it.
We can be charitable. We can give of ourselves without expecting anything in return. We can be anonymous benefactors. If you are struggling with this, take some time to read the many stories of Jesus giving of himself without expecting a return and ask God to re-order your life to look like His.
Where do you find examples in the Bible of Jesus being charitable?
What were some of the things Jesus gave away in the act of charity?