Is It Charity If It Is Forced?

It is the season of giving and many people are feeling a little more charitable than usual.  many of us donate a little more our favorite organizations.  Here where I work we raised money for a coworker whose 1-year-old daughter is struggling with cancer.  It’s a good thing.

As I study the concept of charity, I am often taken to Mosiah 4:16-19 where we are counseled to care for the needy.  It is important for us to care for those who need our help.  It is an important principle of the gospel.

So, why not support the welfare system?

Pyrolitical offers a great explanation of why government isn’t the proper way to care for others.  Prior to reading this article, I understood what they refer to as Strikes #1 and #2.  When we are forced to care for others it really isn’t charity.  When we are forced to care for others we aren’t afforded the opportunity to grow (either as the giver or as the receiver).

I am greatful for this article from Pyrolitical because it offers me a greater understanding of charity and why government as the means to perform charity is wrong.  First, I am struck by strike three (yeah, I am cheesy enough to use that pun).  Government mandated charity separates the giver from the receiver.  It opens doors for the receiver to want more.  It also closes a door for the giver to want to give more.  It becomes antithetical.

Further, I appreciated how they explained that:

In an act of charity, the giver is exalted as they see or become aware of someone in want and reach within themselves to find a way to satisfy that person’s want of their own means. Often this act requires the giver to humble themselves and to reach further than may be comfortable in order to give, in other words, to make a sacrifice.  This sacrifice empowers the giver to more fully recognize the great abundance with which he has been blessed.  Serving others also carries with it the natural by-product of an increased love for all mankind.  This occurs because one has copied the Lord’s example of serving others.

And they recognize that the giver is also blessed in charity:

Conversely, those who are in want are exalted because of the potential for great spiritual growth through first, increased humility in the giving of thanks and the showing of gratitude for the care and support, and secondly, through the humbling act of requesting help from an individual or organization. Through this process of receiving, the receiver draws closer to the Savior, by realizing he is not alone, and that God is looking out for him through His other children.

As we near the end of another great year and a season of giving.  Let’s remember that our service to our fellow men brings us together as a people.  All are blessed when we voluntarily give to others.

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