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On Charity — Guest Post by Uncle Mike

Two or three times a week I leave my retirement farm and drive my truck into town to one of the six (count ’em six) coffee kiosks in our pipsqueak rural burg. You know, where the cute young girls making the brews wear tight jeans and smile like Cheshire cats.

I tell my friends that I order the cheapest thing on menu, an 8 oz cup of coffee, but I don’t drink it because I don’t like coffee. They laugh knowingly because it’s an old man joke. But I’m not being entirely honest with them. Actually I order a 12 oz mocha with extra chocolate and whip cream, which I do like and drink, especially because it helps with my regularity. That’s also an old man joke, but a factual one.

The coffee kiosk I favor has two windows and two lanes, one on each side, one going north and one going south. The other morning I pulled up to the south-bound window and ordered my regularity regular. When the coffee girl (a fetching blond with big teeth) handed it to me, she said it was free today!

I asked her why, and she said the lady at the north-bound window had paid for me. I looked across the interior of the kiosk and through the opposite window and saw a 50-something gal in a pickup truck smiling and waving at me. I waved back, even though I am sure I had never seen that lady ever before in my life.

And it irked me. For one thing, I don’t need anybody’s charity. I pay my own way. Always have, always will. For another, my pickup truck, of which I am justly and perhaps overly proud, is much nicer than hers. Meaning I am better off than she and so if anything should be charitablizing her, not the other way around. Maybe it was the stupid hat with earflaps I was wearing that aroused her sympathy, but that thought just increased my irk.

Furthermore, I am an old white man, a member of the most despised identity group in the country. A grumpy old white man, too, especially early in the morning. I admit I revel in the popular bigotry, because I use the animosity as a energizer — something that also aids my regularity as well as fueling my boiler for the day. Old white man disparagement is as handy and useful to me as a 12 oz double-chocolate mocha (with whip).

I (we) don’t need your charity, dear. Just the opposite.

So I told the fetching young blond that I wanted to pay for next customer and handed her four bucks plus one for the tip jar.

“Paying it forward?” she asked. I said yes, but my motivation was something other than charitable.

And I drove away feeling guilty. ‘Tis the season, after all, for kindness, compassion, and goodwill towards men, and women, and children, and dogs. I harbor goodwill towards the latter most of the year, but not so much the formers. I’m not proud of that.

Paul wrote “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Charity, true charity, is a kind of love — for God and through God for our fellow men (women, children, etc.).

Giving alms to the poor to gain favor in Heaven is not real charity; that kind of thing is more akin to bribery. God does not accept bribes. Nor is real charity a donation to a cause, political or otherwise. Many so-called charitable organizations are anything but.

Real charity, real love, comes from the heart and may not involve money (or goods) at all. It could even be said that real charity should not, cannot, be monetary.

It is said (or taught) that charity springs from faith. I’m not sure about that. Those of little faith may still feel charity towards others, and charity, real charity, in its purest form, might be a feeling, an emotion, or a thought.

The charitable stranger lady who bought me a cuppa should not be unappreciated, however, or worse yet resented (Heaven forfend!).

So I humble myself to her charity. Who am I to be so proud and ungrateful? Blessings upon her. And upon you, dear reader. It’s always the season for charity. Love is a river — let it flow ever to the sea. But, of course, you already knew that, didn’t you? Still, an occasional reminder won’t hurt you. It didn’t hurt me.

8 thoughts on “On Charity — Guest Post by Uncle Mike Leave a comment

  1. I understand but it still can be material. James 2:15-16.

    We’re physical animals and it is hard to focus on God when we’re in poverty, Proverbs 30:9.

    I take the point, though, it really is about desiring the good of another. Acts of politeness and kindness count. There’s no reason to introduce anymore unnecessary pain into the world and bearing someone else’s stupidity or goofiness can be an excellent act of charity I think, we all know God bears ours more than we can even think about.

    Good Christmas season message though from Uncle Mike.

  2. OK, decent post, I guess. But Paul was clear on a couple things. Verse 13 is all about love: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    And don’t be such a grump. Paul also mentioned, in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, that God loves a cheerful giver.

  3. I have & do, and know others who have & do similar small things, often around Christmas, sometimes for no seasonal reason. The typical motive goes like this: Pay for a thing like coffee with a $20 bill and rather than fuss with the change that’s more than double the price of the thing being bought say something like, it’s Christmas buy the next customer’s drink on me, and keep for yourself what’s left over. If there’s a motive(s) there part of it is laziness — the avoidance of fussing with putting cash in a wallet and metal change in a pocket while strapped down in a car. The Season justifies giving away one’s money for this small convenience. Its kind of like those “need a penny take a penny/have a penny leave a penny” services so common at cash registers, only amped up a bit by the “holiday spirit” (or because Summer just started, or it stopped raining, etc., etc.). To even be capable of seeing a similar situation in the manner this author did seems almost unimaginable:

    READ IT AN BELIEVE IT:

    “I looked across the interior of the kiosk and through the opposite window and saw a 50-something gal in a pickup truck smiling and waving at me. I waved back, even though I am sure I had never seen that lady ever before in my life.

    “And it irked me. For one thing, I don’t need anybody’s charity. I pay my own way. Always have, always will. For another, my pickup truck, of which I am justly and perhaps overly proud, is much nicer than hers. Meaning I am better off than she and so if anything should be charitablizing her, not the other way around.”

    HOW did the author jump immediately to “charity” as the other’s motive?
    The immediate observation that his truck was better kind of refutes that as her motive (and to observe that is kind of petty as well).

    The more obvious conclusion was the woman buying the guy a drink recognized him from somewhere or thought she did (mistaken identity for an old friend — certainly plausible looking at someone thru so many windows and distance), or, she was doing this this randomly because its the Christmas season. The cashier’s remark about “paying it forward” suggests this. Maybe even the gift-giver was flirting.

    But what we read about, at length for a pithy act of kindness, is an indignation about charity.

    Also a curious snippet about a selfish motive for charity, doing so for ulterior benefit:

    “Giving alms to the poor to gain favor in Heaven is not real charity; that kind of thing is more akin to bribery. God does not accept bribes. Nor is real charity a donation to a cause, political or otherwise.”

    There’s even less basis for considering that, maybe, that woman wasn’t just some arrogant upstart giving unreal “charity,” she may even be some would-be “God-briber” out for supernatual gain.

    What kind of mind womps up a scenario like that with out of such a pity act as we go into the Christmas holiday season??

    A very deeply insecure/neurotic mind. The remarks give a kind of Rorschach into the author’s broader temperament.

    The author reveals as much:

    “The charitable stranger lady who bought me a cuppa should not be unappreciated, however, or worse yet resented (Heaven forfend!).”

    She “should” not be unappreciated or resented. But the author clearly does:

    “So I humble myself to her charity. Who am I to be so proud and ungrateful?”

    The various descriptions of the staff as objectified show a complementary insight into an arrested emotional development, “tight jeans” and “fetching,” for example hi-lites an inability to see their basic humanity…as struggling and optimistic college students, etc. This is sad to read from someone who’s apparently lived so long and who has so little to show for developing their basic humanity — someone who was given some amount of money and apparently buried it instead of investing it; how many bags given is anybody’s guess, maybe one, or less, but maybe far more. In such matters, Jesus parable of the talents applies equally to believers and atheists.

  4. Maybe those girls are just being charitable. C’mon Ken, do you think the artist doesn’t know what he’s painting? And what about the “retirement farm? What the heck is that?

  5. Holy smokes, Ken! You stumbled in on the wrong blog! Too bad

    Holy Smokes, Ken, too bad you put your sense of humour down sometime and forgot to pick it up again. Must be tough being so po-faced. And at Christmas too.

  6. Well I haven’t a clue what the heck retirement farm means.
    Had to look it up in ‘Uncle’ Bernie’s urban dictionary,

    Not just a retired person living on a farm?
    Obviously Mike’s making a REALLY OBVIOUS point. However. The point itself is lost on me, just that it’s REALLY OBVIOUS!

    You have to have a machiavellian mind to understand grumpy old men.
    Dan Diago’s right.
    So is Ken, about the money for coffee. I thought the same when I read it.
    So is Uncle Mike about what charity IS. What love IS.

    Uncle Mike is doing an impression, to show others an example!:
    On his good days, he’s lovely.

    “dam kids…”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTyLJftgoc0

  7. Thank you, Joy, for the link. Note the stupid hats with ear flaps.

    My daughter gave me one of those for my birthday when she was visiting with the grandkids. I thanked her, put it on, and remarked, “The great thing about hats like this is, if you pull the ear flaps down, you can’t hear anybody.”

    My daughter said dryly, “Is that so?” and I retorted, “What? I can’t hear you.”

    At which my 4-year-old granddaughter yelled, at the top of her lungs, “PULL…UP…YOUR…EAR…FLAPS!”

    If there is anything on this planet more delightful and straight from Heaven than a 4-year-old girl, I have never encountered it.

  8. Uncle Mike, That’s funny! I didn’t even read your comment until after posting a comment overleaf!
    Twilight zone?? doo doo doo doo! never seen it, know how the tune goes.

    I KNEW you had one of those hats before you told us. I like them. Once you’ve worn one of those? You never go back.

    Now you can get all the brownie points for being perfect.
    “Are you Daddy’s girl or Grandad’s girl?”
    “Grandad’s girl”
    Four IS the best age. Bless her. Some of us are still recovering from turning five.

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