A Cause in and of Itself

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.  In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.  They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

  • Titus 1:15-16

And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:13

“Charlie Brown: It says here that young people of today don’t believe in any causes.
“Lucy: That’s not true at all!  I believe in a cause.  I believe in ME!  I’M my own cause!  If I’m not a cause, what IS?  I believe in the cause of good ol’ ME!  THAT’S the cause I believe in!  I’M THE BEST CAUSE I KNOW, AND I BELIEVE IN THAT CAUSE!  I’M THE …
“Charlie Brown: Good grief!”

  • Charles Schulz, Peanuts, as quoted in Robert L. Short, The Gospel According to Peanuts

About a week ago, someone asked me who the prophets of today are.  In reading this old comic strip, it seems Charles Schulz was a prophet in his time, but has this idea of each of us being a cause unto ourselves been going on since Adam and Eve?

I have heard modern pastors lament that the most dangerous condition is to have a firm head knowledge that the Bible is authoritative, but not have any corresponding heart knowledge, a spiritual commitment to the Lord.  Every time this type of person gets a feeling that something is wrong, their first thought is that they “believe” in God, so the feeling must be outside the spiritual realm.  They never listen to the Holy Spirit telling them that they must accept Jesus into their hearts, trusting in Jesus for everything.

But when this unsaved person who thinks they are saved goes on a mission trip, his/her thoughts of intrinsic goodness go out the roof.  But what is really happening?  The concept of a “helper’s high” has been around for nearly 40 years and research backs it up.  The helper’s high is the theory that when we do something selfless for someone else, endorphins are released in the brain, giving us a mild form of a “high” as if we had been given a low dose of morphine.  It explains why so many people are becoming “do-gooders.”  It’s just to get the high … and the bragging rights.  “What did you do on your long weekend?”  “I spent all three days feeding the homeless in a soup kitchen.  I had a blast!”

So, was the selfless act really selfless?  Would we even bother if we did not get the “high” and we could not brag about how selfless we were?

So, when we do, as Jesus suggests on occasion, something where “we have already gotten our ‘reward’,” what was the “cause” that we were supporting?  Was it the homeless, the wounded veterans, the poor, the elderly, the people of a different color, the fill in the blank _____?  Or was it precious US?!

We need to keep doing good.  There is not enough of the do-gooders out there compared to the need.  The Bible says often, not just in 2 Thessalonians above, that we need to keep doing good deeds.  But the anonymous good deeds take away the bragging rights.  And when you have selflessly worked in the background at the soup kitchen – say, in the scullery cleaning the dishes, all alone, only one or two people know that you are on the other side of the constant billowing steam – maybe you go home so tired that you cannot feel anything other than your aches and pains.  The “high”, by then, is long gone.

I’m not bragging.  I did so little.  But an anonymous job at the Thanksgiving Dinner give away might be wrapping the Styrofoam dinners in plastic wrap before they went into the van destined for the old folks high-rise.  The van driver gets the glory.  The cooks get the praise.  The people that stuffed food into the Styrofoam containers get a pat on the back.  But if those dinners were not wrapped, there would be a new job required – cleaning up the mess in the back of the van.

And as my wife was saying the other day, once you have Jesus in your heart, you do not need to be asked to do good things for others.  The Joy and Love seem to pour out from you.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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