April 26, 2021
We have been on our series “Bangon” in our youth services and “Salt and Light” in our weekend worship services. Here we talked about our responsibility as Christians in the world we live in. Hearing these sermons and from plain Bible reading, it is very clear that we are commanded to take care of the poor and extend a helping hand to those in need.
The question now is, “How can we do this? How can we be a blessing to our community?”
These are the questions I was pondering on for the past months. I was stuck at home. I had no allowance. What can I do?
God amazingly answered these questions by allowing me to set up a community pantry in our neighborhood. Today, I am blessed to be able to share my realizations as I started this initiative. I learned that social responsibility is possible when we:
1. Do it for God.
I was surprised when I learned that I was featured on Manila Bulletin’s Twitter account. Many of my friends messaged me and expressed that they were proud of me. My posts about opening the community pantry reached 200 shares and almost 500 reactions. These serve as an encouragement for me, but this can take me away from the very purpose and reason I am doing this: I do this all for God. This is a simple lesson but something that we often forget. Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:1.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus rebukes those who do “righteous acts” wanting to be seen and recognized. Jesus is dealing with the heart of those who want to give. Jesus is asking, “Are we doing this for God or for the praises of the people?”
Maybe we don’t do good works to be seen by others. Maybe the reason we do it is more selfish; we do it to feel “socially responsible.” What we see in social media can guilt-trip us into thinking that we have to do something. So to take away the guilt, we volunteer, we give generously, or we post and get angry on social media. It is very dangerous to serve for the sake of our pride.
Another false idea of mine about social responsibility before is that it is mainly for the people I am helping. That seems right, isn’t it?
On the fourth day of our community pantry, a mother of two sent me pictures of her children smiling at what they received from the pantry. The mother told me how happy they were since they did not have any food for that day if not for what they got from us. Hearing this story broke my heart. It showed me the struggles of my community.
Because of this, I felt like what I was doing was not enough. I thought I had to do more so I can help more. In that desperate moment, I came to God in prayer and God reminded me that I was not just doing it for them, I was doing it for Him.
When we become socially responsible, we have to understand that it is not just about the people that we are helping, but it is about God. Yes, our goal is to help them but our greater goal is to obey and please our God. The danger of doing it primarily for people is that it leads us astray to playing the role of God. We then try to be the savior, when we are not.
Understanding that social responsibility is something we do mainly for God, we are liberated from the pressure to perform, pressure to be the savior, pressure to prove yourself, and pressure to feel “socially responsible.” We are instruments that God uses to extend His kingdom on earth and make His heart and hand felt to those who are in need.
2. Offer it to God.
When I started this community pantry, my methods were not very Christian. I did not pray it through or inquire of God for it. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea. What I had was the donation from my parents and a heart to serve.
I thought it would be easy. My idea was that I only needed a table, a place to set up the pantry, and initial donations and goods. But the first day and the following days proved me wrong. It takes time. It is a tedious job. In just minutes all the goods are gone. It seemed like what I was doing did not help at all. I doubted whether what I was doing mattered. I felt so small. The community pantry’s motto is to take what you need and give what you can. But the situation showed how much the demand was not met by the supplies. Here again, I went to God in prayer (something I wished I did before even starting it).
God reminded me of the first community pantry in the Bible. Jesus fed the five thousand from 5 loaves and 2 fish, which a little boy gave. How can the five loaves and two fish feed the five thousand? Certainly, it was not because the giving and the taking were balanced. What happened in between the giving and the taking?
And he said, “Bring them here to me.”
The reason the five loaves and two fish were enough for the five thousand was that it was offered to Jesus. It was not because the boy gave enough, but because the one to whom he offered them was the one who did the miracle.
To offer it to God is to trust God that He will do something with what you do. To offer it to God is to trust in His promises that He is the ultimate provider and the ultimate Savior. When we offer it to God, God does not look at how much we can give but at how much we trust Him for it.
Dear student, whatever you want to do for your community, do it for God and offer it to Him. He honors the heart of those who want to serve Him. Your work will not be in vain. Ultimately, our goal in social responsibility is not only to meet people’s physical needs but to offer the solution to their greatest need—salvation. Engage your community, be a blessing, preach the gospel.
Photo is from John Tapulao