The difference between Secular Charities and Christian Charities

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. – Romans 2:14-16, ESV.

Both secular charities and Christian charities are forms of services. Both have similar aims. But what sets them apart?

The model answer to this is God. One does it for God and the other does it for the common good. But if this is the case, what then is the difference between Christian charities and charities of other religions?

Sure, we do it for the glory of God. They too do it for the glory of their gods. Surely there must be something more.

If we say that we serve out of love. They too serve out of love. Who are we to say that our love is different? In fact, we often see Christian ministries collapsing because we lack this very ingredient we claim we have. So what’s in for us? What sets us apart?

Evangelism is your motive of charity? Then I believe we better not do it lest we tarnish the message that we preach and trigger unnecessary social upheaval. When we incorporate evangelism into charity, the name of charity is tarnished [1]. Those who need help will know the hidden connotations of the services rendered to them. Some may even reject the help they require given unnecessary religious connotations. So evangelism as a motive for charity is a no-go.

Now then, what’s left of Christian charity? Nothing, but the passion to serve the needy.

It is the law that’s written in our hearts to do good. It is our conscience that is serving the needy. It is our heart for the world that propels us. We are of no difference to other charities — whether religious or not. We simply aren’t!

Understanding this sets the context of how we should serve in charities. We should not have any hidden agendas in any of our ministries and services. Our key goal is for the specified good of the charity.

For example, if the charity is targeted at helping youths at risk, then let our key focus be supporting them so as to reintegrate them to be contributing members of the society, blessing both community and families alike. Likewise, if our charity is to help elders age in place, let our focus be that.

Sure, God is important. So is the gospel. But in order that people may be welcomed with open arms and not have to face the fear of hidden terms and conditions, let us, by our nature, do what we are required to do.

Let our conscience be clear and serve with the passion of serving with no ulterior motive. Let our evangelism be a testimony of our lives and our hearts. People know the textbook-Jesus. People don’t need that. People need to see Jesus. Let us be the light that shines through their hearts.



[1] –

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