We have all gotten the letters to support good causes. We have all watched television commercials that made us cry and open up our wallets for needs around the world. This is good and noble. However, if the only result of charity is that money is given to help those in need than we have missed the point.
Charity is another word for love. Too often we become involved in charitable giving because it does something for us. That is self love, not a good thing. Either we get involved because charity makes us feel good about ourselves, makes us feel superior to those we are helping, makes us feel like we are doing something for others, or just gives us a break for the next tax season.
When it is boiled down, charity for the Christian is not supposed to be about the giver or the one receiving the gift.
A wise man said that, "We are here for the glory of God and the benefit of someone else." The glory of God, pleasing Him, always has to be first.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
In the above verses, Paul was commending the Macedonian churches for sending a charitable offering to help the Christians at Jerusalem who were struggling with a harsh persecution. Many had lost jobs, homes, inheritances, and were ostracized from their families. They were hurting.
In all of his congratulations, Paul expressed his surprise that they hadn't given in the manner which he expected. Verse five said they "first gave their own selves to the Lord." An amazing principle came into play here; the Macedonians made charity about God first.
A verse in Romans reiterates the principle:
Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
We are involved in charity not to satisfy our need to be needed, not to help those who are less fortunate. We are involved in charity first because God loves those that need help and we love God. If it is not about God then we quickly tire of charity giving and work. Feelings are a fickle motivating factor.
God calls us to help and be a blessing to others. Our involvement in charity, however, has to be God centered not feelings oriented.
Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.