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Charity begins at home?

I’ve been having a “discussion” with my beautiful half-sister, Nina, via Facebook over the past couple days. She had posted something on her “status” there that both angered and saddened me. Nina’s not the first person I’ve seen or heard say words to this effect. The words?

“Charity begins at home”

Where does that come from? It’s not in scripture. There are those who say that 1 Timothy 5:8 says it. I’m sure I could argue that point. What that is saying is that if a believer doesn’t take care of his family, especially those of his household, he is worse than an unbeliever. I’ve seen examples of this — when a man won’t get a job because the one he wants isn’t available, but one that will provide for his family is available or when a person gives liberally to causes, leaving his family without or when a person pays for his own pleasures (cigarettes, booze, gambling, etc) and his family goes to charities for help to just buy groceries and keep the lights on.

I think that scripture is obvious in saying that home and family is first priority. God’s first institution was the family.

I also think that Micah 6:8 is a scripture that does speak specifically to what we’re supposed to do. Combine it with 1 Samuel 15:22-23 and the bow is pretty much tied up on the package.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously. Micah 6:8 (The Message)

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Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices — empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.  Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult.  Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors.  Because you said No to God’s command, he says No to your kingship. 1 Samuel 15:22-23 (The Message)

Uhh, yeah, Faye, what’s that mean?

God requires us to DO justice (relieve from oppression) LOVE mercy (compassionate treatment of those in distress) and WALK humbly (continue in a moment-by-moment relationship) with God. He is much more impressed by our OBEDIENCE to Him than any sacrifice we can give or perform.

The argument has been that there are many in our nation who have no place to live, no food to eat, children going without, elderly without assistance, and despite that, on Friday evening a large group of celebrities came together working as one to produce an hour-long telethon shown by over a dozen networks to raise money for the people affected by the 7.0 earthquake that hit the nation of Haiti on January 12, 2010.  I suppose the idea is that these celebrities don’t do the same thing to help in America and that until they do they shouldn’t be doing anything to help those in Haiti.

Let’s see about that — who were some of the celebrities on the air Friday night and what DO they do to rectify problems in America?

George Clooney – known to have one of the biggest hearts in the nation, supporting Realizing the Dream, giving generous donations to homeless people and supporting Bono’s ONE Campaign and the United Way.

Brad Pitt – shares a lot of money fighting poverty worldwide, especially in the poorest areas of Africa, and was right there for the America: A Tribute to Heroes charity telethon for victims of 9/11.

Reese Witherspoon – known for donating items to the Toy Mountain Campaign, providing new unwrapped toys for less fortunate children at Christmas and the proceeds from her Legally Blonde 2 Barbie go to the Children’s Defense Fund.

Julia Roberts – has served with UNICEF and is a board member of the Hole in the Wall Gang, providing the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious illnesses and life threatening conditions.

Morgan Freeman – supports the American Red Cross

Leonardo DiCaprio – formed and contributes to a computer center in the public library in the Los Angeles neighborhood he grew up in.

Justin Timberlake – co-founded Mercy Corp,  whose mission is to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.

…and that’s just a few.

As for those donating? I heard several calls by people who were working in and through their churches and other organizations, but also wanted to give to help those so devastated by poverty and the earthquake.

So, my question on Facebook became, “If charity begins at home, what are YOU doing at home?”

I feel I can ask that question, because I AM doing things. I assist by donating to our church’s food pantry and free clothing giveaways. I go to the jail each month to share a Bible study with the female inmates there who want to attend. I go to the streets of Knoxville monthly with the teens of our church who want to serve the homeless.  Sometimes I look a my schedule and wonder how I can fit it all in, then when I ask myself which one I would let go, the only thing I can come up with is “sleep.”

So, now I’m considered a pain in the butt, a jerk and who knows what else, but since God showed me Galatians 1:10, it’s my life verse, so I can no more sit silently than I can stop breathing and live.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 NLT

Great discussion, Sis, even if we have to agree to disagree.

3 Responses to “Charity begins at home?”

  1. Hi Fay I know you posted this a while back but I was searching for some info on the "Charity begins at Home" quote and Google had you first! Love your comment – "If charity begins at home then what are you doing at home?" I have to present an 'ethical dilemma' at our home group this week so some of the things you have written were very pertinent. Thanks and I will unashamedly use them and acknowledge the source!

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  1. Tweets that mention Charity begins at home? « Living Real -- Topsy.com - January 26, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Faye Bryant, Faye Bryant. Faye Bryant said: What I'm thinking (& posting): Charity begins at home? http://bit.ly/7jkZbH [...]

  2. Charity Disparity « Living Real - February 3, 2010

    [...] long ago, I tackled the subject of giving to those who have been devastated by the earthquake in Haiti. I am still of the mind that [...]

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