An important tenet of Christianity is loving our neighbors as ourselves. After all, Jesus gave his life so that we could be absolved of sin and saved. Charity, or “agape (self-sacrificial love)” as it’s often referred to within Lutheran theology, is a fundamental element of the Christian life. As Lutherans, we believe in serving others and exhibiting God’s love through acts of kindness and generosity.
At King of Kings church we believe in feeding physical hunger, spiritual hunger and the hunger to be in community. How does this translate into meaningful actions? Let’s look at some simple but powerful steps we all can take to be more charitable in our daily lives.
What Does Charitable Mean?
Depending on which dictionary you look at, “charitable” can simply mean being full of love and goodwill for others or, more specifically, giving food, money and help to those in need. It can also refer to being merciful or lenient when judging others.
Charity, according to Christianity, isn’t just about giving money. It’s about expressing love, kindness, and compassion toward all of God’s creation. Acts of charity help us embody Christ’s teachings and bring positive change to our communities.
Martin Luther’s experiences as a monk, his work helping the poor around him and his stern criticisms of corrupt political and church leaders led him to develop a charitable attitude towards the world. With his 95 theses, he sought to end predatory practices that exploited the poor’s fear of spiritual damnation so that they could find salvation without paying their last cents to the church. His cause was connecting people to the Lord.
What is Your Cause?
God’s work is diverse, as are the causes we can support. From fighting hunger, poverty, and injustice, to promoting education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability, there’s an array of causes that can always use more advocates.
Consider prayerfully what issues resonate with your values and interests. Martin Luther’s teachings on “vocation” can guide us to seek opportunities for charity in our everyday roles. He believed that all Christians had a calling or vocation and that through these, we became conduits for God’s love on earth. Align your calling with the things that mean the most to you whether it’s volunteering at your child’s school, bringing meals to the elderly or working on policies and legal reforms.
You could even contribute to your favorite local Lutheran Church! King of Kings offers a variety of opportunities for giving within the church, in our local communities and through global missions. Visit the King of Kings connect and serve page to learn more.
How to Be More Charitable on a Budget
Lutheranism encourages responsible stewardship of our resources. Consider what portion of your income or savings you can faithfully allocate to charity. Whether it’s a regular tithe or a one-time donation, every contribution matters. And don’t forget, certain charitable donations may be tax-deductible.
Ensure your donations have the maximum impact by giving to reputable charities. Look for transparency, sound financial management, and proven impacts. Christian-affiliated charities often have strong ties to the community and a track record of effective service.
Remember, giving isn’t limited to monetary contributions. Donating goods, volunteering time and skills, legacy giving, and advocacy are all vital. Your time and skills are valuable resources that the world can benefit from. The key is finding the right match for what you have to offer.
How to Be Charitable Everyday
Charity isn’t a one-off act; it’s a lifestyle that reflects your commitment to live out the Gospel message. Luther’s doctrine of “the priesthood of all believers” suggests we all have roles in expressing God’s love through our actions. Luther posited that all baptized believers were, in essence, priests through their personal union with Christ and are capable of doing God’s work.
Conduct yourself in a charitable way no matter who you’re with or what you’re doing. Kindness and actions speak louder than words. For inspiration, align yourself with others who model charitable giving and encourage your family, friends and community members to embrace a generous spirit. Remember, every act of kindness sends ripples of positive change.`
10 Easy Ways to Be Charitable
Finally, let’s end with ten simple, concrete and effective ways to become more charitable in your life:
- Give on your birthday. Birthdays are the perfect opportunity to raise awareness for a cause near to your heart. Gently suggest that friends and family honor you by donating to a charity of your choice.
- Donate items you no longer need. Cleaning out your closets, downsizing your home and passing on items you no longer use can benefit you and someone less fortunate. Consider who could use the things you no longer need to hold on to.
- Write letters. Contact your officials to speak up on issues that are important to you. Affect change in small steps but remain diligent.
- Raise awareness. Your social media circles can be a great way to raise awareness about causes that are important to you. Inspire others to get involved and to donate time or money.
- Leave donations in your will. Next time you revise your will, add in allotments for the organizations that have meant the most to you.
- Support ethical businesses. Being charitable can be as simple as supporting businesses that align with your values. Patronize businesses that give back.
- Set up automatic payment. Most of us pay our bills via automatic transfer. Why not do the same thing for the charities you support? Even a few dollars every paycheck can add up to a meaningful annual contribution.
- Donate blood. Healthcare facilities are always in need of blood. Donating yours could impact the life of another human being.
- Get your employer to match. Many companies set aside budgets for giving. See if your employer has a program to match employee donations.
- Organize a fundraiser. Throw a party, organize a race, start a drive. Get others involved to sponsor your efforts and multiply your giving.
Set Aside Time on Sunday
Join us at King of Kings Lutheran Church. Our community is a great place to learn and be inspired to do more in the world. Consider church like a battery that gives you energy to be your best, most charitable self.