Helping Without Money
There are many good people with benevolent hearts and kindly impulses, who think they cannot do much good in the world because they have no money to give. They envy those who have wealth at their disposal, and who can so easily lift off the burdens of the poor, and give substantial aid to those who are in distress. They lament that because of their own poverty, they cannot relieve the human needs which they see about them. They do not know of any way of doing good without money; and they sit discouraged in the midst of human needs and sorrows, not supposing that they – with their empty hands – can still render help and comfort.
No doubt, there are necessities which money alone can relieve. Love – no matter how rich and true and tender it may be – will not pay a widow’s rent, nor buy medicines for a sick man, nor put shoes on an orphan’s feet. There will always be need for deeds of charity, as long as sin and sorrow continue on this earth; and a person who has money to give must give it.
“Whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need, and shuts up his compassion from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” If our professed love for Christ is real, it will exhibit itself in love to His friends who are in need. We cannot serve Christ in person with our acts and ministries, for He does not need what we can give; but His people are with us, and what we do for them is done for Him.
There is often a need for money, and those who have it must use it to relieve the needs of their suffering neighbors. Yet it should be remembered that the help which human lives need, in nine cases out of ten, is not money-help. “Silver and gold have I none,” said Peter to the lame man at the Beautiful Gate; “but such as I have give I you.” And what he gave him was infinitely better than gold or silver would have been. He said to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Then, taking the lame man by the hand, he lifted him up; and at once, his weak limbs became strong so that he could walk alone – no longer needing to sit by the Temple entrance and ask for alms. Better help had been given him than any money that the poor man had ever received.
This story is a parable as well as a fact. Its lesson is that there are better things to give than gold and silver. If we can put new life and hope into the heart of a discouraged person, so that he rises out of his weak despair, and takes his place again in the ranks of active life – we have done a far better thing for him than if we had put our hands into our pockets, and given him money to help him nurse his miserable and unmanly despair a little longer. The truest sympathy is not that weak emotion which only sits down and weeps with a sufferer, imparting no courage or hope; but rather, it is that wiser love which – although it is touched by his pain and grief, and feels tenderly toward him – seeks to put new strength into his heart, and to enable him to endure his suffering in a victorious way. The best comforters and helpers of their fellow human beings are those who go about with large hopefulness and cheerfulness in their own hearts, trying to put a little more hope and cheer into the life of everyone they meet.
We can all do a great deal of the truest good in this world, even without having much money to bestow. If we do not have gold and silver to give, we can take those persons by the hand who have fallen in the way, and help them rise again. We can put fresh courage into the hearts of the faint, so that they can take up their burdens afresh and start forward once more in the race. We can give cheer and comfort to those who are weary through toil or sorrow. We can impart inspirations of joy, and we can kindle new hope in the hearts of those who have begun to lag behind.
We can make life a little easier for everyone we meet – not necessarily by taking anything from his burden, but by making him more able to bear it! And in the end, although we may never be able to give a single dollar to relieve distress, it may be seen that the blessings we have scattered into people’s very lives are far more in number and far greater in value than if our lavish hands had been dispensing gold and silver all our years!
There is never an end of opportunities for such personal helpfulness as this. There are rich possibilities for “wayside ministries” that are made up of countless small courtesies, gentle words, and mere passing touches on the lives of those whom we casually meet! Think of all the impulses that may be given by putting a little more warmth into our ordinary salutations, or of all the influences that may flow directly or indirectly from the things we do and the words we speak.
For example, we meet a friend on the street whose heart is heavy. We stop for a moment in passing, to speak a word of thoughtful cheer and hope; and it sings in his heart all day, like a note of an angel’s song. We walk a little way with a young man who is in danger of turning out of the path of safety; and we drop a sincere word of kindly interest in him, or of affectionate warning, which may help to save him. Amidst the busiest scenes, when we are engaged in the most momentous labors, we may still carry on a never-ceasing ministry of personal helpfulness – the results of which shall spring up like flowers in the path behind us, or echo in the hearts of others like notes of holy song, or glow in other lives in touches of radiant beauty.
It is related of Leonardo da Vinci that in his boyhood, when he saw caged birds for sale on the streets of Florence, he would buy them and set them free. It was a rare trait in a boy, and it spoke of a noble heart full of genuine sympathy. As we go about the streets, we find many caged birds which we may set free. There are many imprisoned joys that we may liberate by the power that is in us to help others.
Naturalists say that the stork, having most tenderly fed its young, will sail under them when they first attempt to fly; and if they begin to fall, they will bear them up and support them. And when one stork is wounded by the hunter, the others gather around it, put their wings under it, and try to carry it away. These instincts in the birds teach us the lesson of helpfulness. We should come up close to those who are in any way overburdened or weak or faint; and by putting our own strength underneath them, we should help them along. And when another fellow human being is wounded or crushed, whether by sorrow or by sin, it is our duty to gather around him and try to lift him up and save him. There is scarcely a limit to our possibilities of helpfulness in these ways.
“There is a man,” said his neighbor, speaking of the village carpenter, “who has done more good, I really believe, in this community, than any other person who ever lived in it. He cannot talk very well in a prayer-meeting, and he doesn’t often try. He isn’t worth two thousand dollars, and it’s very little that he can donate for the spread of the Gospel. But a new family never moves into the village that he does not find them out to give them a neighborly welcome, and to offer any little service he can render. He is always on the look-out to help others. He is always ready to stay with a sick neighbor and look after his affairs for him. I have sometimes thought that he and his wife keep houseplants in winter just to be able to send flowers to invalids. He finds time for a pleasant word for every child he meets, and you’ll see the children climbing into his own one-horse wagon when he has no other load. He really seems to have a genius for helping folks in all sorts of common ways, and it does me good every day just to meet him on the street.” This picture, although in a humble frame, may do someone good to look at; so it is framed here, and left on this page.
Thus, without money, we can make our lives abundantly useful in this world full of need. Sympathy is better than money. So is courage. So is cheer. So is hope. It is better always to give ourselves than to give our money. Certainly we should give ourselves, along with whatever else we may give. The gift without the giver is unacceptable. Christ Himself gave no money. but every life that came near to Him in faith went away enriched and helped. He gave love – and love is the brightest and richest coin minted in this world. And all of us can give love. None are too poor for that.
In what ways can you help one of your family members or friends today – without money?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections or ask your questions below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by Spencer Creative Co. | Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on my website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.