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of RED RIVER VALLEY
|August 2006 Character Quality -- Benevolence
|The following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
The reports came in from a half a world away: “The tsunami is now responsible for hundreds of
thousands of deaths, as well as incomprehensible damage.” At this cry for help, thousands of
ordinary citizens heard and immediately joined teams leaving for the disaster areas. Finding
pure bedlam, devastating results, and millions of people with little hope, they set to work – to
rebuild their countries, their hope, and their lives.
The reason for this immediate response was not so much a sense of duty –as a sense of love
for their fellow man. Benevolence is giving to others basic needs without having as my motive
personal reward. For some, this will require them to assist in a disaster area across the
oceans. However for most, benevolence (love) will require that they work through difficult
relationships, considering others, and working for their good. Love is the basis upon which
every other character quality is based. The Apostle Paul says, “Though I give away all my
goods to feed the poor…and do not love, I am nothing.”
Here are five basic ways to show love. Choose to care for others, regardless of the hurt they
may have caused. Help to make others successful. Discern the true needs of others, realizing
that harsh remarks often stem from root problems. Take personal interest in the lives of family
and friends. Give freely, despite the cost.
Living a life of love is like shining a bright light in a dark room – the light dispels the darkness
just as love dispels gloom and fear. Perfect love casts out fear. True love will persevere, even
when there is no return for its kindness. Charles Spurgeon puts love in this respect: “Love is a
weakness in which lies our strength.”
It is easy enough loving those who request our services at the office, school, or church. It is not
always easy to tend to our own families and love them day in and day out with the same
enthusiasm. In order for love to have power, we must balance it with responsibility. Responsible
“care givers” will see the needs they are responsible for and tend to them before offering to care
for others. Discretion is knowing what not to do. In dealing with others’ problems, a wise giver
will discern what is most needed at the time. A gift given with a heart of love may be received by
a heart of suspicion or bitterness. It is important to determine the best course to take when
caring for others.
There are countless ways to show love to others, however we must be willing to be that “Good
Samaritan.” A.W. Tozer puts it this way, “One of the world’s worst tragedies is that we allow our
hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves.” True love is looking for
the good in others and purposing to build the great quality of love in ourselves. “Greater love
has no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends.”
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! materials. For more information about the Character First!
program and resources contact: Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73102, (405) 815-0001.
Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at www.character-paris.org.