How do you measure charity? How much money you give, how often you help older people across the street, how many hours you log at the soup kitchen? Yes, those are some measures, and as it goes the United States is the most charitable country in the world 10 years straight. That’s according to the World Giving Index that asked 1.3 million individuals across the globe: Have you done any of the following in the past month? 1) Helped a stranger 2) Donated money to a charity 3) Volunteered your time to an organization?
58% of Americans answered yes! To what degree we commit to these categories is unknown. It’s a personal assessment, the honor system. Does picking up an item dropped by someone count as helping a stranger? How about leaving your extra pennies at the register at the gas station? Does that count as a donation? Coming in to work off the clock to help out a department that is behind, does that count as volunteering? It’s not clear, but I guess it counts. Why, because we are really good at evaluating our goodness.
Taking the issue deeper, WalletHub conducted a study based on 19 key indicators in two broad categories: volunteering/service and charitable giving to determine which of the 50 States are most charitable. Utah finished No. 1 in the study, followed by Minnesota, Maryland, Oregon and Ohio at No. 5. The bottom five: Rhode Island (46th), Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arizona (50th). Where did the Volunteer State land on the list, 38th! https://wallethub.com/edu/most-and-least-charitable-states/8555
The website also offers a calculator to help readers determine if they are giving to their potential. Type in the amount of money you make a year and the number of hours a week you volunteer and they will show you what else you could be doing with your time and money. https://wallethub.com/charity-calculator/
These are great tools to make us mindful of our need to give, but in the competitive world we live in it’s easy to let reports like these go to our head or guilt us into doing something we don’t want to do. That’s why I like God’s standard of measurement. In Matthew 5, Jesus gives His most famous sermon and flips how most of us measure “goodness.” After comparing our deeds against the works of those of the world, if we come out even, Jesus asks, “what good does it do?” The real measure, Jesus concludes, is perfection. In verse 48 He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
High standard, who can reach that level, you might ask. The answer is no one on earth. Jesus tells us that our standard of measurement is all wrong. Instead of measuring our goodness against others we should measure it against God. What we discover is that we will never be good enough. With that discovery we should recognize how bad we really are and how much in need we are of a Savior.
It feels good to alleviate our conscience by telling ourselves; “at least I’m not as bad as they are,” but that does nothing for our Eternity. You might out give others, but you will never out give God. You might give the most on paper but if your heart is not right or your motives suspect what good is it? God set the bar so high so that we would all realize how sinful we really are. His solution is not doing, it’s done! Jesus has finished the work of salvation on the Cross! We can’t earn it, it’s a true gift! That’s Good News at any season.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6
Serving the Savior,
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