Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Outsourcing Charity

I look at how much people outsource these days, especially in their own home lives. It seems like lots of people outsource the majority of their parenting to schools or daycares. Environmentalist types like Al Gore outsource their energy saving by buying carbon offsets. BTW, if you really cared about the environment as much as Al Gore wanted you to, you would keep your own energy use down AND buy carbon offsets. I have written off Al Gore as a hypocrite, in case you can't tell.

Anyways, I started to wonder about outsourcing charity. I have read some places where people have said it's not right to donate to charities while not performing any acts of charity yourself. If that is indeed wrong, then I myself am guilty as charged, most of the time. I fully admit my own imperfections in this. We live a good bit away from the inner-city and it takes gigantic chunks of time for us to drive into the city to feed homeless people stuff. I suppose we could always try to find something local. Or help on a more individual, person-to-person level. But it's so easy and convenient to siphon money automatically to certain para-church organization. I know, I know, Christianity is not about "easy and convenient." I realize a lot of this sounds very whiney, but I hope you will extend some grace to me.

So, I am left wrestling with the issue. Should I be feeling guilty that most of my charitable acts consist of tax-deductible automatic transactions and church contributions? Do I need a butt-kicking? Do I just need to get up out of the chair and go out and do stuff? I guess what I'm wondering is whether or not my monetary contributions are considered "enough." I doubt they are. If I were one of you Not-JunkMale people reading this blog, I would probably tell JunkMale that it's not wrong to donate to charities; however, one would also perform charitable acts himself. Ideally, I'd like to be able to personally contribute to some local charity, but I'm not really sure where to start.

Does anyone have any thoughts? I'd appreciate them.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi JM,

    I think the parable of the good Samaritan applies here. We should do good to those we encounter in our daily life. It's fine to set aside time in the schedule to do benevolent service, but that's not how Jesus did it. He saw people with needs as he went about his daily life, and he took the time to serve them. It's all about loving our neighbor as ourselves. Easier said than done.

    Some people look at their taxes as their way of helping the poor. But you rarely see someone feeling particularly sympathetic and therefore paying more than required on their taxes. The truth is that our own hearts benefit when we serve a person face to face. When we pay someone else to do that, we don't get the same benefit. In a way, that can immunize ourselves from being truly compassionate.