Philosophy Lite: America is a land of benevolence
America is probably the most benevolent country in the world. The Christian way of life encourages people to be generous and helpful.
I read recently that there are 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in our country. These NPO's get tax exempt status because they work for the public good, and I believe many of them relate to the Christian ideal.
In oldest days, the Jewish people were encouraged to be benevolent, but Jesus expanded the idea even more. Christians are exhorted to live a lifestyle that places the emphasis on others more than one's self.
Recently, we attended the funeral of a lady who exemplified this to the nth degree.
Living in pain much of her life, she never complained. She gave away most of her possessions. With limited abilities, she concentrated on constructing baskets of flowers, which she gave away. At the funeral, all the flowers were in her baskets and there were enough to give away to most attendees. She gave away crosses to people as a way of sharing her faith.
In our materialistic society, there is a great influence exerted to encourage us to buy a better home, a fancier car, a boat or airplane and any number of "toys" to keep us happy. Jesus told a parable of a man who had been very successful and still wanted more, but the word came: "Tonight your life will be required of you - what then will be the value of these things to you?"
Jesus preached good works: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
The 15th chapter of John is devoted to the idea that we are to make a difference. Verse eight is very explicit: "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
We study the Bible all our lives, but often ignore the instructions contained therein. We can have class discussions about the greatness of such ideals and then go home without another thought about putting such ideals into practice. The book of James exhorts readers to, "be ye doers of the word and not hearers only." Another of his sayings, "Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone."
There is a reward for those who do good; both here and in the afterlife.
We take satisfaction in knowing that we are helping others. We find joy in knowing that we are pleasing our heavenly Father.
It is important to note here that good works do not get us into heaven. That gift is only available through the substitutionary death of Christ our Savior. It is His sacrifice that cleanses us from sin. He died that we may live. Good works are our way of helping bring in his kingdom.
I do not go into a list of those benevolences. You will know when your help is needed if you are alert to the commandments of our Lord and the Apostles.
Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria.