Free! Free Trial! Free for 30 days! Everywhere you turn there is an ad promoting something that is free. Of course, when you buy the product or service, you find yourself knee-deep in strings attached. At one point, the government wanted to take over the church charity contributions by giving money to church organizations to give charity.
What a great idea! The government would hand you a check and say in effect, “Go and help your neighbor.” No money out of pocket! You would help your neighbor and everyone would be happy. That is like saying, “Johnny, take this dollar down to your friend, he needs your help.” How far do you think Johnny would go before he found a candy store?
Children need to be taught to have charity, and charity goes hand-in-hand with sacrifice. There is no meaning in giving away something that was given to you to give away. There is only meaning in giving something you have cherished and worked for. That was the idea behind the law of sacrifice in ancient times. Think about it. A person who made his livelihood as a shepherd would have a great love for his sheep. He would have fed it daily and watched it grow from a lamb to a ram. A certain love and pride go with nourishing animals. Then to choose the very best and put it on the altar for a sacrifice, would have been a great challenge. Putting it in modern terms, when your time is precious, it is hard to visit someone who is sick; however, when you do it, great blessings come. When your money is tight and you take money to a sick neighbor to help them put food on a bare table, you feel a feeling that is akin to Christ’s love.
The idea of the government taking over the charity in the church is tantamount to putting a nail in the coffin of Christianity. The whole concept of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” would go by the wayside. People would gradually conclude, “The government will take care of everything, so why should I be concerned about my neighbor?” Pretty good tactic to destroy Christianity and to make people more dependent on a government that already has a hard time taking care of itself!
Quentin L. Cook said, “There are two very different reasons people engage in acts of kindness and generosity. Some people visit the sick, assist the poor and serve their fellowmen because they believe it is the right thing to do and others will reciprocate and do the same for them when they are in need.” He explained that while this is good, builds caring communities and should be considered a noble reason, a higher motive is when we serve our fellowmen because that is what we believe God wants us to do.
It takes a lifetime to develop the right attitude towards service. We do not need the government to dictate our course. When you are a child, you do it because you want to help. As you grow, you do it because of peer pressure and because your friends are doing it. As you grow wiser, you learn that it does not matter what others think, but you like to have a good feeling about yourself. When you finally mature in Christ, you do service because you are ministering for Christ. You are doing His work, and His service becomes a selfless act that fills your soul with unspeakable joy and love for your neighbor and for your Savior.
The only love that comes close to Christ’s love is a mother’s love for her infant. She is willing to sacrifice her life to save her little one. Her baby’s pain is her pain. Her baby’s joy is her joy! Why is a mother’s love so deep? Sacrifice! She spent nine months being miserable, giving up her beautiful body, her comfort and her well-being to bring that child into the world. Then finally, after nine months of misery, she spends 10 or 12 hours in excruciating pain to allow that child life. No wonder mothers are willing to run into burning buildings to save their child from harm.
My mother was one of those women. When I was 3 years old, I was severely burned with hot soup. I can imagine how she felt. The following is an excerpt from my life history. It begins after they had taken me to the doctor and he sent me home after bandaging my burn that went from my rib cage to my thighs.
Sullenly my parents retraced their steps to the car. The trip home was no more hopeful than the trip there. I can’t imagine how my parents felt taking me home again. That night must have been a trip into the underworld for my parents. The tick of the clock marking away the seconds that seemed like hours. They walked the floor and prayed. Somehow they got through the night, only to face the rising sun without relief or a solution to the problem.
The morning came in somber radiance. There was a flicker of hope. I was still alive. My grandparents came, bringing a little comfort. Mom cried in her dad’s arms and retold the story. They wept with her. The bandages had to be removed and the burns redressed daily. Mom had the responsibility. She struggled to make it less painful, but when the bandages are stuck to the skin, there isn’t much relief except to rip away the bandage quickly so the pain doesn’t last as long. Day after day Mom went through the agonizing process. After witnessing the scene of bandaging, my grandfather said, “You’re not putting those bandages back on that child.” Mother said he was inspired. He found a pasteboard box and cut the ends out just big enough to fit over my burned tummy and legs. He lined it with fresh white cloth and put it over my body and I began to heal.
A few days ago, I had a similar experience. My adopted son Craig and his sister Stephanie were trying to start a four-wheeler with jumper cables. There was gas on the side of the four-wheeler. The jumper cables clanged together, creating a spark that ignited the gas. The fire burned Craig’s ankle and leg. He and his sister didn’t panic or it would have been a terrible disaster. Craig dropped to the ground and covered his burning leg and pants with dirt, and she put dirt on the fire on the four-wheeler.
To make a long story short, I watched as my husband dressed the burn. My heart cried for Craig’s pain. We took him to the doctor and he bandaged the burn. The next day we were faced with removing the bandages. It was a terrible moment for me to see my husband struggle to take off the bandages that were stuck to the skin. Thoughts of my mother came into my mind, and I understood her sacrifice and love for me. I will never know how she was able to stand up under the strain. Her charity was deep and abiding. She understands how it is to walk with the Savior.
My father was not absent in all this turmoil. He had to work during the day to provide for the family, but he spent hours in the evening, telling me stories and comforting me long into the night. My parents know the meaning of sacrifice.
As I think about the idea that the government could do a better job in providing care and charity, I cringe. Human beings were meant to learn to sacrifice and to give charity. It is the very basis of Christianity. The government is not a living entity; it is a machine that was designed to help people, not enslave them. Our government was designed to protect, and provide justice, not to meet our daily needs. We need to do that. We need to be able to bless our neighbors. When there is no sacrifice, there is no spiritual growth. If we want to be like the Savior, we need to walk His walk and talk His talk. The government can’t help us do that. PD