Today, is the International Day of Charity. First established in 2015 by the United Nations, today is about acknowledging the role that charity plays in eradicating poverty, supplementing public service systems, cultivating culture and community, and celebrating our common humanity.

The word “charity” is assigned to both an organisation that raises public funds in support of a worthy cause, and the individual acts of kindness and generosity which millions of people perform every day. While use of the word itself has lost popularity in recent decades, I’m glad of this day, which gives me reason to pause and reflect on the idea of charity and why it’s worth holding onto in our lives, our societies, and our nations.

So, today, in celebration of the International Day of Charity, here are 6 ways to live out charity in your everyday lives.

1. LEARN

There is probably no one more known for their acts of kindness and compassion towards the poor in the last century than Mother Teresa. In fact, 5 September was chosen as International Charity Day to commemorate the passing of Mother Teresa, in remembrance of her life of service to the poor in India – what an incredible legacy!

Acts of service, both by individuals and charitable organisations, help bring about social harmony in communities and alleviate suffering. By working to better understand the lives of those who have served, suffered, and sacrificed to bring peace and dignity to the lives of others, we can learn to identify true charity.

Perhaps there is someone in your own life who you can learn from too. Whether it’s someone who has journeyed across the seas to show acts of kindness, or someone who quietly dedicates time to loving their local neighbour through difficult times, be open to heeding their example.

As you open your heart to learning, I pray you are inspired, humbled and challenged.

2. REFLECT

Many of us live busy lives. We move from one activity to another, often leaving very little time to sit in the quiet, to be still, and reflect.

Reflection may take patience and lots of practice… or it may come very naturally to you. Today, I encourage you to create space in your day to reflect on the ways God is using you, and spend time celebrating all the good things God is doing. Before you dive into the next good deed, I encourage you to remember to bring all things before God.

Let Him clothe you with compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness (Colossians 3:12) that your good works may be full of love for those that God places in your path.

3. GIVE THANKS

In Colossians 3 Paul reminds the followers of Jesus to do all things in His name with thanksgiving. Do you hear the call here? To do all things with thanksgiving to God… to let our acts of kindness and compassion be soaked with our gratitude to The Maker of creation.

So, let us keep remembering to turn towards God, not only thanking Him for all He has done in our lives, but also remembering the call to be His image bearers as we step out and love others.

As you engage with giving thanks to God may you also learn to give thanks to one another. And as you see God more clearly at work in your own life, may it become more evident that giving thanks to one another can be an extension of your thankfulness to God.

I encourage you to spend time each day this week thanking God… write it down, say it out loud, or share it with a friend. Let your thankfulness be the first step towards a heart and life marked by charity.

4. PARTICIPATE

Whether you’re doing paid work, volunteering, or staying at home to help raise a family, your “work” is an opportunity to participate in God’s kingdom.

To you, your participation in acts of charity may mean donating to organisations like Baptist World Aid, serving in your church, providing a service for your local community, or even moving to a new area and immersing yourself in a particular type of mission.

God calls each of us to serve where we are, but if you’re unsure about how to use your gifts and passions in service of others, why not talk to your church family about how to serve together to be a blessing to your community? Or call us here at Baptist World Aid to find out more about how you can get involved.

5. CULTIVATE

In the Baptist World Aid book, The Single Thing That Can Change the World, author Scott Higgins writes about God’s desire for us to move beyond outward acts of obedience, toward cultivating a character of generous love.

Scott writes:

“We need to remember that we will not become the people God wants us to be simply by following rules. The Pharisees were passionate about obeying the rules of God, but they had not become the merciful, just and faithful people that the Law was seeking to make them. Rather, we need to cultivate character traits that mark us out as people of generous love: gratitude, presence, compassion, wisdom and humility.”

Charity is part of a whole of life response to God’s grace, as we give ourselves in service of others.

Through cultivating a character of generous love, you will create space in your life for acts of charity to flow from… acts which are shaped by the character and wisdom of God Himself.

6. IMAGINE A BETTER FUTURE

In a world of brokenness, it can take courage and hope to imagine a better future. A world reconciled and redeemed.

As Christians, we know that the impact of our lives stretches far beyond what we see now… rather, when we live as God wants us to, our impact will be eternal.

When we live a life marked by generous love – or true charity – we are in step with God’s purposes, and we can live in the security of God’s promises for a restored future.

So, when it comes time to considering your impact on this world and what kind of legacy you want to leave behind, you might like to help create a better future by leaving a gift in your Will to a charity like Baptist World Aid.

A gift for future generations is a gift of faith and love… a gift of hope for a world redeemed. Click here to find out more about how leaving a gift in your Will can make a difference for families well into the future.