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Selfish Philanthropy May 26, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep.

I was driving home yesterday and passed some young adults who were standing on a street corner holding Red Cross signs.  I saw one of them stop a passerby so I’m assuming they were canvassing for donations or something.  I started to think about what would motivate them to spend their time in such a way.  Yes, I’m sure its important…but it seems so far removed from the people that will actually be helped…such a small piece of an enormously big picture.  And how important is it really…in the long run…to gather a few donations for a service like Red Cross…?

And then I abruptly realized the nature of my own thoughts and hung my head in shame (well…internally at least since I was still driving).  I don’t know if this is true for any other Christians, but I know for me, I have evaluated where I invest my time in helping other people on the basis of its eternal significance.  If its not going to help connect people with God, I don’t value it nor do I see it as worth my time or contribution. 

No wonder people view us Christians as hypocrites.  Clearly I don’t just love people and want to help them in any way I can, to make their lives easier, to meet simple (or big) needs.  I love with an agenda…and that stinks.  And at the same time I somehow view my motivation, my contributions as more valuable than those of people like the young adults I saw standing on the corner.  How arrogant and self-centred can I be???

Whenever I walk through the student centre at Mac, there are groups of students raising money for this or that cause, promoting awareness about this or that social concern.  And I’ve trivialized it all…in fact I’ve scorned such activities as a waste of time…because they didn’t measure up on my eternal significance yardstick.  And yet my guess is that God is applauding their concern for others, the way in which they are obeying their conscience despite not knowing the ‘truth’. 

And me?  Well, today he’s challenging me that I need to learn to love…not work to advance a mission, fulfill an agenda and slap the label ‘love’ on it…but truly learn to love…everybody.



1. patti - May 30, 2007


I agree with this. If the only way we know how to care about people is for advancing our agenda…that’s a little ugly. God so loved the whole world…not just the ones that responded.

More of the church needs to consider this, I think.

2. Anonymous - June 1, 2007

Great insight and self reflection. We all need to think about this and look at how we respond to others…..and what our motivations really are….

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