Discipline to Success: The Spiritual Attribute
Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Having Brotherly Love and Charity
Whether you belong to the Christian faith or not, you probably can relate to Jesus Christ’s teaching of the ‘Good Samaritan.’ I will paraphrase this story because of its perfect example of brotherly love and charity.
The road between Jerusalem and Jericho at the time of Christ was infested with thieves. Travelers during this time would travel in groups and caravans for protection. It was common to bypass the main road and travel a more distant journey to avoid the dangers.
A Jew, who was traveling along this road, has fallen among thieves. A Samaritan, traveling along the same road, stopped to help. Jews and Samaritans had unfriendly relations in their day, existing as separate peoples in the same land — much like the segregated cultures earlier in our nation’s history.
Our story begins from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10, the King James version of the Bible. A lawyer, standing among the people whom Jesus was teaching, asked: “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus returned a question: “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” The lawyer replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” The answer was approved by Jesus. The Master said: “This do, and thou shalt live.” “And who is my neighbor?” retorted the lawyer.
“Who is my neighbor?” What a simple question. Christ’s answer serves as one of the life’s greatest teachings: The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
“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. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”
Then of the lawyer Jesus asked: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was the neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him, Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (1)
(1) (The Gospel of St. Luke: Chapter 10, versus 30-37; KJV)
Can you imagine living in a world socially ruled by good Samaritans? There would be no murder, envy, greed, class struggles, deprivations, jealousies, hatred and lying. Of course, we can’t expect a world ruled by good Samaritans. But we can change your individual world by developing Samaritan traits that will help advance our goals and aspirations. Imagine the kind of friendship, support and trust you would have in your work place, school, community and family if you became a “Good Samaritan”.
Being the “Good Samaritan” requires more than just donating your time and money. Although your time is greatly appreciated, and your donation certainly helps any worthwhile cause, any person with time and money can donate the same. Charity is something more. Charity is the extension of your heart and love when you give your time, talents and resources to those in need of friendship, guidance and physical help.
Charity benefits those who receive and not necessarily those who give. A “Good Samaritan” comes secretly in the night offering their service and resources without acknowledgment. Charitable people give, serve and donate for one purpose only: to help those in need. They expect nothing in return — no publicity, no tax write-off, no praise for their service and certainly no notoriety of any kind. They come secretly to give and then leave secretly as they came.
I use ‘coming secretly in the night’ analogy to illustrate that charity is a change of heart. You give because of your love for others, not because you expect payment or recognition for your services. Of course, some charitable acts are rightfully noticed. Sometimes recognition for your good deeds cannot be prevented. But the “Good Samaritan” gives because of their love for others rather than to give because of an expected gain.
So how do we develop charitable traits?
1) Maintain a Benevolent Good Will and Love of Mankind
A person who would steal, cheat, belittle, inflict physical or mental harm or insult another person collectively or individually is not a person with benevolent good will. Benevolent good will characterizes someone who is friendly, respectful, positive and willing to lend a hand. A “goodly person” seeks the best in everyone and builds another person’s character rather than destroying it.
Benevolent people respect nature and the environment. They would never inflict senseless harm on animals. They protect the environment and promote its cleanliness.
Benevolent people would not steal or defraud a company. Cheating on your taxes or stealing supplies from your work or school are not characteristics of benevolent people.
2) Be Considerate and Helpful
Charity means being considerate and helpful by giving your service to all regardless of race, color, ethnic background and religion. Remember that it was the despised Samaritan who offered assistance to the Jew.
Often we become so involved in our daily routines that we pass unexpectedly by people who cry for help. I recall a story related by a man who said that while waiting in line to process his ticket for a flight to Chicago, a woman with a small infant in her arms approached the back of the line with several bags. She was alone with no one to assist her. The infant was crying. People in the line appeared irritated by the increasing cries as they crept impatiently to the front counter.
As the cries intensified, a businessman removed himself from the front of the line and went back to assist the mother. He offered to stand in her place while she tended to the infant. The businessman continued to hold her place in line, processed her ticket, tagged and loaded her baggage and then assisted her to the boarding area. He then excused himself graciously and slid quietly into the busy crowds. He demanded no payment for his services. The person relating this story noted the gentleman’s charitable acts from a respected distance and was ashamed because of his own inconsiderate heart.
There are many people like this mother who need our support and help, sometimes at the most inconvenient place or when we are rushing to a scheduled appointment. When we speak of the needy, we often think of the poor, the hungry and the lost. These unfortunate people respectively need our help whenever possible. But the needy also include many other people who for some reason need a lending hand and supportive voice. The needy include the person who doesn’t have any friends. It includes the widow who lives down the street. It includes the mother with a crying infant, the family stranded on the side of the road with an inoperable vehicle, the young lady who dropped her bags. A charitable person seeks out the needy and offers their friendship, guidance, counseling and resources, as necessary.
3) Having a Generous Heart
Having a generous heart is different than being considerate and helpful. Being helpful and considerate means that we offer immediate assistance to those who need our help. Having a generous heart means that we devote our time and resources to help those who are disadvantaged.
A generous person donates time and resources to help those in need. If you are unable to financially donate money, you can give an hour each week to projects or programs that help less fortunate people. An hour of your time is just as valuable as a donation. Contributing your time can be more meaningful as you witness personally the joy that comes from people who lack hope and sense of direction.
Next week: we will continue our discussion on the spiritual attribute: having humility.
As we go through our spiritural character discussion, continue working on your character development goals for physical, physical temperance, education and social.
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