“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” — Luke 10:30
Many years ago our family had the experience of having to request charity from our Church to survive the winter. This was, at the time, a very humbling experience, especially since, prior to our family moving to Cardston from Calgary, where I held a well-paying job with an oil company. However, when it was all over and I was back on my feet again, upon looking back at the experience, it was, in the truest sense, a positive, learning experience, and I’m thankful for it. It was a time when I experienced, to use the old movie title—”The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:” the true nature of people. Let me explain.
Of course, it was no secret in town that we were on Church assistance, so—and this is where it becomes interesting—many Ward members did their small part in helping us. I classified our givers into three types. First, there were the “well-if-you-weren’t-so-lazy-and-get-off-your-ass-and-get-yourself-a-job-you-wouldn’t-be-in-this-mess” type. One lady that I put in this category, brought us a few oranges that were so old and dried up that we couldn’t even peel them, had we even tried to eat them. Furthermore, the lady emphasized the fact that she brought these oranges to us as a charitable donation, given out of the goodness of her heart, and that we (the lazy bum) had better appreciate her generous gift!
“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” — Luke 10:31
Then there was the second type. These I placed in the “political” category. You know, the politician always looking for a photo-op chance? The reason I say, political, it that they wanted everyone in the neighborhood to know that they were being charitable to us. They did no research to see that, what they brought to us was actually something that we might need: their point was that they were publicly demonstrating that they were charitable!
“And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.” — Luke 10:32
Then there were those that I placed into the third category. They were, in every definition of the word, charity—charitable. They made certain that what they brought, or left on our doorstep for us to find, items that we could really use, and with almost without exception, items of superior quality. There are many of these wonderful donors who, to this day, I don’t know who they were. It was to remain their secret!
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.” — Luke 10:33
Life has improved considerably for us since those early trying days, but they were impressive days that have given me many hours of serious thought. What is charity? When is it time to administer “tough love,” and when is it time to give physical aid: money, a helping hand in a project, or even just a kind, encouraging word?
In return for my humbling experiences, life has taught me that the most honourable job that I can aspire to is to be a compassionate altruist!