Charity is one of the greatest virtues of mankind. Every religion asks its followers to engage in charities for the fellow human beings and even to other living beings. Charity means using your energy, talent, resources, money, possessions, or whatever else, to help people who need them. Jesus Christ asked his followers to do good to the people who are less privileged in the society,
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:13-14).
Holy Quoran exhorts Muslims to perform charity to attain the love of God and follow the path of righteous in the following words,
“You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend (in charity) out of what you love.” (The Holy Quran 3:92)
The basic spirit behind the charity in religion is that man must share what God has given to him. Thus charity is also a means of giving justice to the fellow human beings and to serve God as all people are the children of God.
Yet, charity must not be done for getting any benefit in return from this world in any form because then it become business and trading of one type of material possession (wealth, time, knowledge etc) with other type of material possession (name, fame, respect from society etc). It has to be done without any expectation as God Himself rewards those who do charity. An ideal act of charity is similar to throwing your money into the river, which is done silently and without any expectation or even a possibility of return.
Charity for Name
Though charity is a great virtue in religions, yet it is often practiced by worldly and material people who do not have much religion affiliation. Charity is done by people who may not have any believe in heaven or God. Bill Gates, who after being the richest man in the world for fourteen years, decided to quit from his company Microsoft, to work full time for the charitable activity of his foundation viz. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates is not alone in such charitable works. Warren Buffet, the second richest man 慈善機構 in the world too plans to donate the more than $37 billion from his $44-billion fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Almost all the biggest charities of the world are set up by some of the richest man of the world, who donated most of their fortune for the charitable work.
Most of these people are not known to be religious and even spiritual. Yet they were motivated by their inherent desire to do good for all human beings or to fulfill the desire of God. What motivates even a non-religious person to do charity, if they have no faith in God or rewards after this life?
Worldly Motivation of Charity
Most people become charitable once the money stop giving them satisfaction. This can be explained from the following example.
Suppose you are stranded in a desert and thirsty for days. You are about to die if you do not get water in a few moments. A person approaches you with a glass of water and asks $ 1000 as the price of one glass of water. You argue with him saying that the price is too high. He says that if you want it, this is the price you have to pay. You pay the price reluctantly as you need the water desperately. However, once you have drunk your first glass of water, he offers you the next glass of water at the same price. You will refuse to pay as your desperation has reduced. May be you can still pay $ 100 for one glass of water. Thus the value of water would continue to diminish with every glass you drink. Soon a time would come, when you will refuse to drink a glass of water, even if the person pays you $ 1000.
The value of money too reduces for every person and gradually becomes a liability rather than an asset as excess money brings with it many problems and miseries in life. A rich person suffers from the threat of life as many people would like to snatch his money. He loses respect and love of the common man who feels jealous and even angry of his riches and his lifestyle, which they can not afford. They often brand him capricious, dishonest and even thief of the society. Thus excess wealth instead of giving any satisfaction becomes a source of pain to the rich man.
The excess money is like excess weight of the body, which instead of making you beautiful, makes you ugly; instead of making you healthy, makes you unhealthy and instead of making you happy makes, you unhappy.
How many people would mind losing weight, if it would have been possible to give your excess weight to a person without any pain? Can there be any sacrifice involved in giving your excess weight, which you do not want anyway? That is why Koran said that you must give what you love and not what you dislike.
Yet most people continue to attach themselves with the excess wealth or weight, as it is extremely painful to part away something that has become part of you. The wise men, however, decide to shed their excess wealth to gain what they lost in the process of acquiring wealth. They donate their wealth and their time in charitable work so that they can gain respect from the society. In a way, this may not be a charity but the maximization of the worldly pleasure that comes from compliments and respects by spending some money in the name of charity.
Challenges of Charity
It is easy to throw your money in the name of charity, but extremely difficult to do charity that does good to the world. Donations, if given to the wrong person, may instead of doing any good for the society may do considerable harm to the world. Nowadays, thousands of charities have cropped up merely to receive donations from such people who have lost the pleasure of money in the name of charity.