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al·tru·ism
ˈaltro͞oˌizəm/
  1. the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.

Imagine you bought yourself a new watch. It works so well (and looks so good on your gorgeous wrist) that you decide to buy yourself a fancy shirt to go with it. Then, you talk yourself into buying a whole new outfit (because you have worked so hard recently and you deserve to treat yourself).

New shoes, fresh underwear, bling.

You look amazing.

And you feel amazing.

But while you’re out for a stroll around the lake (looking like a million bucks) you see a young girl drowning. You can tell that she’s exhausted… seconds from going under.

Tell me, what would you do?

I know, I know… it’s silly to ask.

You would immediately jump into the water and save the young girl’s life! Your cool watch, your fancy shirt and your new shoes would probably get ruined.

But that wouldn’t matter, not even for a second.

You would be the hero and you would save that long girl’s life; because if you were in the right place, at the right time, you would do the right thing.

FYI, If you earn the typical income in the US, and donate 10% of your earnings each year to the Against Malaria Foundation you’ll probably save dozens of lives over your lifetime.

That’s at least 12 drowning girls saved. Between now and the day you die.

This fact comes to you via The Effective Altruism website and when I first heard it, it changed my life.

For the last 8 months, I have spent zero dollars on new clothes, cool electronics or fresh underwear. I analyzed my spending from the past few years and found (on average) a few hundred dollars a month that were exclusively spent on things for me.

On good things. Fun things. Me things.

Nothing wrong with that.

It’s just that I have discovered something higher.

For the last 8 months, I have increased my giving to charities and non-profits to triple of what my average was these past few years.

On good people. Great causes. On “girls’ drowning.”

My wife and I have also decided not to enter the joy of home ownership or getting a second car. It’s so wonderful when families can celebrate the purchase of their new homes, but as a family we’ve decided to focus our investments into the adoption of our daughter and other endeavors that serve the poorest of the poor.

Yes, there are people that can do both.

We can’t, so we had to choose.

These small changes have allowed us to do big things. And it all started with answering this question: 

How can we use our wealth to help others the most?

It looks different for different people. So I’m not telling you this so you celebrate me (I’ll leave that for July 30th). #PartyTime

I’m telling you this because it has been rewarding, motivating and simple… and I want you to experience the same.

There are many more people who give and care and donate much more than we do. This is me telling you, “Now, I really know why they do it… and you should give it a chance!”

Jesus said it best, It is better to give than to receive. 

So here’s the encouragement to us to live in the better.

As Megan Othersen wrote, “A host of scientific studies have shown that altruism does wonders for your health as well as your soul. A now-famous Harvard University study conducted in the 1980s proved that people even simply watching an altruistic act—in the study’s case, a short film of Mother Teresa tending orphans in Calcutta—get an immune system boost.”

Internally reworking your spending so you can be a more generous giver will be good for your budget (and your health and your faith).

I know we’ve heard what the right thing to do is. But every once in a while, we need a reminder to go ahead and do it.

So here’s our reminder.

In 2009 I went to the Republic of Niger and spent a week in sub-Sahara bush. This area is among the poorest regions in the whole world. We went to share the love of God and assist a local ministry. We did everything from feeding children, to handing out multivitamins, sharing the stories of Jesus with our muslim friends and praying for the sick. While we were there in a remote village, we heard of a young man who had died from a common cold.

And then I literally lost it.

I got into the car and began to cry uncontrollably. Our team had spent eight hours under a tree in 100+ heat, trying to smile for the long line of malnourished people who waited for food, Jesus and medicine. I cried because I was angry at my own selfishness. I cried with disappointment because God had not sorted out the famine. I cried because a man had died from a common cold.

Just a common cold.

It’s taken me since 2009 to realize that I can’t save everybody (duh) but I could save at least 12 (and maybe many more).

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today, I pray the Spirit turns our selfishness into conviction, our comfort into action and our wealth into a wildfire of generosity.

Jesus listed out some of the “drowning” in front of us (and even claimed himself to be one with them)

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

Ask yourself right now, What can I stop buying for myself that can directly become a percentage of what I give away?

Social media is exposing us to unimaginable pain and never-ending wars and drowning girls all around the world. Are we going to keep walking?

There are literally hundreds of ministries/non-profits that are doing great work for the underprivileged, the hurting, those in conflict zones and human trafficking. Find ones that connect to your particular calling and passion and commit to giving. Or take 5 minutes to review the options below and figure out the few things you can give up today so you can save a life tomorrow:

  • Preemptive Love is a global movement of peacemakers changing the way we engage the world’s most polarizing conflicts by confronting fear with acts of love: preemptivelove.org
  • Iris Relief teams work alongside local churches to strengthen the Body of Christ who are ministering hope and healing to victims of disaster, and also partner with national relief organizations for maximum impact in disaster zone: irisglobal.org/relief

  • CASA PAZ (Home of Peace) is a family. It is a safe place where the children of Pacifico can eat well, grown in leadership, strengthen their relationships and encounter God’s love. Pacifico is the poorest area in Lima, Peru. There are thousands of people living without running water, bathroom facilities, transportation or proper nutrition: gofundme.com/casadepazperu

Peace.