The wrong way to help orphans

When you tell people that you are doing something to help orphans, you’ll always get that look from other people who you are in some way, a good person. I saw it when I told people about our church raising money for the well in Uganda. I saw it when people would hear about the 3 families from our church that are hosting orphans this Summer, or the 1 family that is actually adopting an orphan, who is a teenager no less. That look. It’s easy to think that all this stuff we are doing is good and we are good for actually doing it. Yes, we’re sending 12 people to Uganda to help an orphanage, yes we are bringing orphans into our homes, and yes, we even gave some money to help orphans this year. When you just sit back and think about all that we have done or are doing, it’s easy to feel that tinge of self-righteous goodness. Of course, who is anti-orphan. Besides Esqueleto from Nacho Libre, who uttered the phrase, “I hate all the orphans in all the world!”, no one is really against orphans (btw, just typing that quote felt wrong). Even people outside the church think that helping the fatherless is a good thing.

Here’s what we have to remember though. We can do good things the wrong way. Helping orphans is good, no doubt, but we have to ask ourselves why we are doing this. Have we spent all this money and made all these sacrifices just because it sounds like a good thing or because it makes us feel good? We fool ourselves if we think God is impressed with any of our efforts. Righteous deeds done for the benefit and glory of ourselves is actually despicable to God. It’s also easy to see the pictures, hear their plight and feel bad. So are we motivated by mere pity?

As a Christian there is a deeper reason for why we help and love the orphan. We love the fatherless, because that is who we are. All of us…spiritually speaking. Every person born on this earth was at one time, a spiritual orphan, outside the family of God. Colossians 1:21 states that we were alienated, which means we were outside the fellowship of God, that we were enemies of Him. It’s one thing to adopt a baby. They are sweet and innocent. God doesn’t adopt babies, He adopts despots. Orphan care and orphan ministry is vital and important, not because there are over 140 million orphans that need a home, but because the doctrine of adoption drives us to love others the way God showered his love on us. God brought us into His family through the work of Jesus Christ. Check out this passage in Ephesians 1:3-8:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Think about this, in a few months, the well will be dug in Uganda. Our team will be home with pictures and stories of their trip. Andris will be home, and the Eastern European orphans will be back home. All this activity and focus towards helping orphans will settle down. But does it have to? It will be easy to think that we’ve all done our part. We’ve all given. We’ve all helped in some way. But if we are driven by the truths of the gospel, we never let that thinking enter into our minds. We reach out, we give, we adopt, and we go because the reality of God’s passionate, never-ending, sacrifice through Jesus doesn’t grow old.

I hope and pray that this year is just the beginning. I pray that more will be done, not because of how all of this makes us feel, but because we worship and follow a God who never stops bringing prodigals into his family. Let’s be driven to continue to do much to care for orphans, but may we do it the right way.

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