The true sense of altruism is missing when serving people nowadays. Altruism means doing something for someone else without the motive of wanting to be paid for it. Our lives today are impacted by the market economy because of the monetary value tied to what we do. This is basically what molds the way we think and do things in our society and it also impacts ministry.
The teachings of Christ points out that what a person does in private can be rewarded by God in the open. In Matthew 6:3-4 the Bible declares, “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly”.
The true sense of altruism does not encourage neglecting yourself. The transaction between God and man involves the aspect of your true self. That is why he commands us in Matthew 22: 39 saying, “… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. It is not possible to claim you love your neighbor when you do not love yourself. First take care of yourself to be able to take care of another person. You cannot give what you do not have. This same principle is applicable in our service to God for the people in the world.
The fact is that when you give openly, other people will misunderstand you and would even come up with their own theories about your motives. However, giving is more rewarding when it is done in private because it is done with the idea that God sees what is done in private and generously reward it openly. God’s rewards are diverse, generous and perfect. God who sees in secret has the ability to reward your good works openly.
People can make up their own theories just like the disciples made up some too. There is one incident in which the disciple wondered about Jesus and this happened at the time when Jesus was at the well talking to a Samaritan woman. In John 4:27 the Bible says, “And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”. The disciple’s way of thinking was conditioned just like the Samaritan women’s way of thinking was conditioned too. They could not understand why he was talking to a woman. When the disciples were dealing with the “gender” boundary issues the Samaritan was dealing with the “racial” boundary issues.
In John 4:9 the Samaritan woman said, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?”. This woman was limited in her way of thinking about racial issues because of the way things were done then. Jesus was telling her that things were about change. He was telling her that in him there would be one holy nation, a priesthood that would worship the Father in Spirit and Truth. On the other hand he was telling the disciples to open up to a new way of serving people in ministry.
We all have to deal with issues that may limit our transaction with God and fellow man, but in Christ these limitations are taken away. God has removed the wall of division between him and us by Jesus Christ. Through Christ our service to God can be done with a sense of altruism.
The first step to practicing altruism is to understand that no one is immune to deception. People tend to think of deception as being something from the false prophets or false teachers when actually anyone can deceive his own self. In James 1:22 the Bible says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”. Watch out for self-deception and be open minded to God’s way of doing things. God is perfect in all his ways. Avoid emotional thinking and promote real change to better the human condition. Redemption is real and it is available through Jesus Christ.
The second step is to practice giving in secret and let the Father in Heaven reward you openly. Try not to sabotage the giving done in secret by talking about it with other people. Let it be a secret between you and God. Sometimes people can form their own opinions when it appears that you do as you sometimes give openly as a religious duty. Whenever you give openly, let it be with the understanding that God sees your motive and that he would reward you openly in due season. What matters is the motive of your heart. Remember that God is the only one who has access to your heart and not man.