Charitable Action

CHARITABLE organizations dedicate themselves to helping the community. Naturally, they seek to cut costs so that more of their income can go toward their charitable proj-ects. But sometimes ``cost cutting'' steps over the boundary of good management into improper--even illegal--behavior. What can we do when an organization's actions don't line up with its charitable ideals?

I volunteer for one organization where the directors at one time allowed an illegal copy of a computer software program to be used. When I noticed this form of cost cutting, however, I couldn't help wondering if an illegal action could really benefit the charity and the community. To me it seemed as though illicit means would be counterproductive in achieving the organization's goals.

As I prayed to know what to do, I thought about what it is that meets the human need. In the Bible, Paul wrote in a letter to the Philippians: ``My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus'' (4:19). God feeds, protects, clothes, and supplies the needs of man, as Jesus demonstrated in feeding the multitude with a few loaves and fishes and by healing the sick. God, good, is the source of all productive action.

What is our role or occupation in this activity of God, divine Principle, that supplies humanity's needs? God, divine Love, made man to express Him. Man is the expression, or idea, of God. Our unselfish action toward the betterment of our communities and the world is an expression of divine Love. Our ability to accomplish worthwhile goals reflects the power of God, who made and maintains all aspects of creation.

Our work is truly effective only to the degree we express the qualities of God. It is the goodness, love, intelligence, integrity, order, and bounty of God reflected in our lives that produce good results. So, I reasoned, if we believe that using software--or anything else--without taking proper steps to pay for it will further the purpose of our organization, we are mistaken. The end doesn't justify the means. Unprincipled actions have no positive result, because all power belongs to God, good. God is the one Principle, which governs all.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this paper, writes in her Miscellaneous Writings: ``Christian Science authorizes the logical conclusion drawn from the Scriptures, that there is in reality none besides the eternal, infinite God, good. Evil is temporal: it is the illusion of time and mortality.'' And she adds: ``This being true, sin has no power; and fear, its coeval, is without divine authority'' (p. 93).

Only actions that derive from Love have the power to sustain the purpose of Love. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, revealed the essence or power of charity as the love that ``doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil'' (13:5). If we seek our own without full consideration of another's needs, our love ceases to be love or charity. On the other hand, if we seek by every means to be chari-table to all people and companies, we will be benefited. Our actions will further the purpose of the organizations we serve. As Paul added: ``Charity never faileth'' (13:8).

God, divine Love, does supply the needs of all--even the needs of the charities themselves. I recently learned that the organization I volunteer for has received an offer from a major software company to provide a wide range of software at a very low cost. It is part of the company's ``gifts in kind'' program for community support. The directors now look to this company as their source for legal software that better meets the organization's needs!

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