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"Weary in doing Good"

Is there a limit to how much good we can do? The story of the good Samaritan helps deal with this question.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up," Galatians 6:9 (NIV).

… how can I reflect God's heart for the poor?

I have to admit this past month has been one of the more stretching times of my ministry career. In some ways it would have been enough for me to travel to South East Asia in response to the tsunami. However, I had previously planned a trip to South Africa in late January. It was going to be physically and emotionally challenging. I thought about cancelling it, but didn't. Why?

One of the reasons was to remind myself and others that there are other "tsunamis" in the world. Even though these "tsunamis" occur month after month, year after year, they don't receive much media coverage.

For example:

  • In 2004, 3.1 million people died because of AIDS—600,000 were children under 15 years of age.

  • 11 million children younger than five years of age die every year, more than half from hunger-related causes. Most of these deaths are attributed, not to outright starvation, but to diseases that move in on vulnerable children whose bodies have been weakened by hunger.

  • Then of course there is the ongoing pain, suffering and death caused by the wars and conflicts in places like Congo and Sudan.

With these kinds of tragedies abounding, should we not have responded in unprecedented ways to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami? Absolutely not! The response to the calamity in South East Asia is very needed and appropriate. My concern is that we remember the other "tsunamis" in the world and respond with the same kind of vigour and compassion.

Through my own local church we have been able to fund more than $50,000 of emergency AID to tsunami victims. I thank God for this outpouring of love. However, someone in our congregation asked me if we were going to drop our focus on HIV/AIDS because of what we were doing in Sri Lanka. My response, "No, we will do both."

However, the question looms large, "How do I not burn out from doing good?" The story of the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37) helped me so much.

One of the strongest features of this story is what the Samaritan does NOT do:

  • He doesn't have the mugging victim move in with him. He just brings him to a hotel.

  • He doesn't give him all his money. He just covers his expenses for a few days.

  • He doesn't do brain surgery. He just bandages him up a little bit.

  • He doesn't start a relief agency to help mugging victims and make the road safe for travel.

  • He doesn't even cancel his business trip.

It's not a grandiose story. Jesus as the master storyteller uses great restraint. Somebody does what he can. He doesn't do everything. He does something.

As we consider responding to the needs in the world it is important that we listen to Lord and seek His wisdom on what specific steps we should take. Obviously, He doesn't want us to burn out but rather deploy us effectively to demonstrate His compassion and love. So be sure to pray and be obedient to what the Lord asks you to do.

Micah Challenge

One of the reasons I am so committed to the Micah Challenge is that it helps me and others respond in meaningful ways to the poor in the world. It allows me to do something.

The Micah Challenge is really about doing two things.

First, it is about deepening Christian commitment to the poor.

In other words how can I reflect God's heart for the poor? Here is a simple test. Do a personal audit. Look at your cheque book and see how much money you gave to the poor last year. Review your daytimer and see how much time you gave to serving the poor in the last 12 months. Once you come up with those numbers simply commit to doing at least ten percent more.

Second, it is about holding governments accountable for the commitments they have made to the poor.

In 2000 Canada agreed to play its part to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The goals are achievable, but the current pace of action is too slow. If we hold the present course, we will fail to meet these targets. Canada promised we would give .7 percent of our Gross National Income to overseas aid. (That's right—only seven tenths of one percent.) Currently we are giving .28 percent. Let's hold our government accountable for these promises. You can make your voice known by signing the Micah Challenge. Add your voice to thousands of other concerned Canadian Christians. Let's keep in mind the following Scripture:

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy," (Proverbs 31:8-9).

As we continue to face the ongoing tsunamis in the world, apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians, "Let us not become weary in doing good."

I don't know about you but I need this reminder.

Geoff Tunnicliffe is the director of global initiatives with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.




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