Charity

The word used for “love” in much of the Bible is also translated as “charity” in the English language.  My father used to call me a “bleeding heart” when I was a teen in angst.  I have not lost my compassion for the poor or the call on my life to live out my faith in the service of others.  You see, every penny we “have” is not our own.  The money in my pocket is actually the Lord’s money, and I strive to make choices such that he will say, one day when I stand before him, “well done, my good and faithful servant!”

There was a time in my life when I needed some charity of my own.  I was a full time college student working a full time job that paid $11K a year.  I was not eligible for a grant because I earned too much money according to whoever it is who decides Pell Grants.  My efficiency apartment was $450 a month, my car payment was $250 a month, totalling $8400 of my yearly expenses, not including food, utilities…and, lest I forget, tuition!   Fortunately I applied for and received a scholarship which paid most of my tuition, books and fees, but here it is nearly fifteen years after I graduated, and I’ll still paying off the loans.

I share this because I do empathize with those people who live paycheck to paycheck.  I’ve dug under the seat of my car to find enough change for a hamburger.  I was extremely fortunate to have parents who every month sacrificed some of their own money so I could have enough to eat.

Somehow, someway, my God was with me.  I did not go hungry.  I had an apartment (a fire trap, granted, but at least it kept the rain out).  My needs were more than met.  I look back now and wonder how on earth I managed…but I know it was the grace of God and reliance on Him that saw me through each and every day.

Back to charity and the government.  I am a taxpayer.  The way things stand now, I have no idea where my money (remember, God’s money) is going without looking up long documents written in mathematical hieroglyphics that I can’t understand.  That has to change.  Technology exists today that could show me, with the press of a few keys, exactly where my own personal tax dollars are going.  This step is necessary so that those of us who make up “we the people” actually have a say in where “we the people’s” money is going.

Those who favor big government might actually agree with me on desiring more transparency, especially those who are against spending money on foreign wars.

But here’s where we differ: I would rather use my money (God’s money) myself to support those in need than have the government do it for me.  I can do it much more efficiently and personally than a government system ever could, and so could you.  I also could direct where those funds go.  If I did not want my funds to support Planned Parenthood, then I could send them to Buckner Maternal Pregnancy counseling services or Gladney instead.  If I did not want my tax dollars going to support the war, I could instead pump them into proven programs that teach adults how to read or to providing health care for the needy.  The perception that only the government can best serve is false and is also so sad because it takes the “love” out of charity.  I would love to take the money we send to Uncle Sam and instead direct it to families who are having to live in a hotel across from MD Anderson due to a six month radiation treatment program their dad is having to undergo. 

(I speak from experience here.  My brother-in-law has an inoperable brain tumor.  The expense of his chemo alone each month far exceeds what insurance is willing to pay, so their debts are mushrooming.  I don’t know how they manage.  They are blessed with a church family and neighbors who bring them dinner every night so they can feed their four kids.  To be saddled with such catastrophic health care costs in addition to the knowledge that dad has a brain tumor is just too much.)

As of now, I am powerless.  I have no freedom to choose where my tax money goes.  I homeschool my own child and spend about $3000 a year on curriculum, music and gym classes, yet I still pay the school district over $10,000 a year in taxes to educate other people’s children.  And those parents don’t get to choose their children’s teachers, or even their schools, for that matter.  I’d rather a district that spent $8,000 per year per student to give those funds to parents and then let parents choose which schools their children attend and which teachers their students have.

I will never forget the day I had to go to the social security office to have a new card issued.  There was a gentleman in front of me, and we chatted, he in very broken English, me straining to understand his accent, as we wound our way through the impossibly long line.  There were signs all over the place in English and in Spanish, but this man was not English or Spanish.  The signs directed customers to fill out a certain form before they got to the window.  I was dumbfounded at the lack of respect and common decency shown this man who could barely speak English, much less read it or write it.  If I had known beforehand, I would have filled the form out for him.  Instead, the woman at the counter screamed at him, shoved a form in his face, and told him to get back in line.  He was confused, and as he stood there uncertainly, I told him that the lady wanted him to fill out the form.  Finally he understood and then took his place back at the end of the line which had grown substantially longer.

I was so angry at the way he had been treated that I was shaking as I left that place, and I was ashamed to be an American.  If this is how we treat others, no wonder those in other countries despise us!

The government “system’s” worker had zero charity that day.  There has to be a better way to serve each other without involving systems that require umpteen million zillion rules and regulations.

It isn’t that I don’t want to help the less fortunate.  It’s that I want to teach the less fortunate how to help themselves.  A person who relies on the government for everything isn’t really free.  Even worse, a people whose government supplies them with everything leaves them with the illusion that their government is, in fact, a god.  This government becomes something to be idolized and protected at all costs, even if the very systems in place are broken and obsolete.

We must be very careful here.  If we rely on Uncle Sam to provide us with our schools, our health care, our food, our utilities, and our rent for a generation, what will happen if we then vote in a leader who tells us that we are free to practice our religion as long as it happens only in our own homes…who tells us that if we try to convert others to our faith, we will lose our monthly food stamps, health care, access to education…??  It’s happening in other nations even as you read this.  If we aren’t careful, it could happen to us.

Government “charity”, in some nations, is a means to control and oppress.  Let us never let that be said of America!

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