KEY SCRIPTURE James 2:14-17 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. What do you know about Volunteering? How much of it do you do?
RELEVANCE Did you know your faith is directly tied to your Volunteering?
In Australia, We have lots of PAID community services. You may be familiar with Medicare, hospitals, housing support, various pensions, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), SES, natural disaster payments, Ambulance, Fire brigade, etc.
Our taxes bear the cost of these safety nets, which is why we don't mind paying. And why everybody wants to live in Australia.
God set up community services when he dispensed the Law to Moses and the Israelites.
Leviticus 23:22 (Community duty) And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
Exodus 22:21 (Community duty) Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 19:34 (Community duty) But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
James 1:27 (Community duty) Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
1 John 3:17 (Community duty) But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
These days, paid community services cover most of these biblical requirements. However, they fall far short of what is needed. We still need volunteers.
Volunteering Australia Statistics January 2021
Formal Volunteering: An estimated six million people 15 years and over volunteer with organisations.
Informal Volunteering = This is greater at 6.5 million volunteers
People with disability make up nearly 25% of ALL people volunteering for an organisation.
In this life, there will never be a world where volunteers are not necessary.
Why do so many people volunteer to help others without thinking of reimbursement?
Well, one reason could be that it's inbuilt.
Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, Which God hath before ordained that WE should walk in them.
Also, western countries are built on Judeo-Christian values (Love God and love your neighbour), which means we grow up with those principles. They are in our communities, families and governments—for instance, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, school or church biscuit bakes. Scouts and Guides had a fantastic outreach called Bob-a-Job Week. It is now simply "Job Week". It was initially set up to do a good turn for people. A 'Bob' wasn't a bloke's name but the colloquial term for a Shilling, the former equivalence of 10 cents. Kids would go door-to-door in two's and ask the people if they had any jobs. Their payment would be a 'Bob.'
Many organisations and people survive exclusively due to volunteers. If someone has free time, is lonely or bored, or inefficiently spending time, they can donate it to a worthy cause. After my father died and mum moved to Bendigo, she volunteered. Like many others, Mum delivered Meals-On-Wheels and worked in Opp Shops for the next few years.
HOW IS FAITH RELATED TO VOLUNTEERING? God is no person's debtor (Romans 11:35). Volunteering doesn't make us heroes or better than others, despite accolades given at times. We are just people doing a job for those who can't. Others have helped us somewhere in time, and now it's our turn to share the love—to give to God's system.
Acts 20:35 shows us an odd return on our investment, as the Apostle Paul states, I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Studies at Baylor University showed an increase in many personal aspects of the volunteer when they freely offered their time and skills. And this is where the rubber hits the road—where the volunteer benefits as well as the recipient or client. God set up a marvellous circle of life when He gave us the two great commandments to love God and love our neighbour.
The more congregants work with persons different from themselves on the variables of race, income, education, personal habits, disabilities, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and political beliefs, the more likely they are to score higher on measures of faith.
Those who developed a relationship with recipients (delivered meals to the same people every week) were more involved in other practices of their faith (worship, prayer, giving financially, working for social justice, forgiving, repenting, etc.) than those who did not form relationships (e.g., handed out food vouchers or groceries).
Almost 60% of respondents reported changes in their attitudes about the persons they served or worked with in community ministry activity.
25% were even more motivated to serve, and had learned new priorities about how to use their time and money.
Almost 47% of respondents indicated their faith was stronger due to their community ministry participation.
It also shows that if we're mean with our time, with thoughts like, "Why should I do it when I don't get paid!" or "I'm not helping; I'm the one who needs help!" God will ensure you get no return because you didn't invest. Much like the person with one talent whose thinking was so distorted he did nothing with it. Nobody was increased with his talent. (Matthew 25:14-30)
Here are three examples of where simple beginnings can end up. When these people began volunteering, they were unknown.
Clara Barton - Founder of the American First Aid Society and American Red Cross, whose efforts were largely self-financed, placed ads in newspapers to encourage supplies to be donated for the Civil War. It is said that Barton often arrived on the front lines at critical times.
One reason Clara was so effective is her determination to overcome problems. "I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past." – Clara Barton.
William Booth - Founder of the Salvation Army. Booth dedicated his life to offering charitable support to the poor in London. A fervent evangelical Christian, he was committed to providing material aid and spiritual salvation.
Bill Wilson - Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson found a cure for his own alcoholism and decided to help others. Not to raise money but give support.
What characteristics might we need for some jobs? Acts 6 depicts an issue that arose in the New Testament, where the Church was not looking after widows properly. So the church leaders selected overseers with exemplary character qualities.
Acts 6: 3, Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men
of honest report,
full of the Holy Ghost
and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Why These Attributes? Doing community work, whether or not for an organisation, can be demanding. It stretches us. But it also calls for general qualities.
Hard work. (Some jobs require the extra mile. So, we cannot leave or faint before they're finished)
Discretionary mouth. We see and hear things we shouldn't repeat.
Immense love to overcome our distaste for some sights or behaviours.
Honesty in word and spirit (so we don't steal or tell lies).
Beware the Traps Yes, there is always a trap. It's easy to get taken for a ride. Not everyone needing help is genuine, but wait for the next sucker to bleed of time and/or money. They are energy wasters. I have been conned enough times to know. As cold as it sounds, we need to assess this early, as your volunteer time IS valuable and should be spent on the needy—what you stepped forward for in the first place.
Summary In giving, God has ways of ensuring nobody misses out, not even the genuine giver. He enriches us beyond words. What do you do with your time? Could it be better spent? Are there things you could do to help others get through life?
Jesus calls us to help others—to love our neighbour as ourselves. It's another term for physical intercession.
If we say we love God with all our heart, that heart will draw us to help others. Let's follow it!
PRAYER Dear Lord, I've always wondered about what the giver gets, how you repay, and how you become no person's debtor. Now that I see it, I am bewildered by your marvellous design of ensuring the giver never misses out on things of real value. Praise your name!
Photo by Matt Collamer