My previous post introduced the concept that God designed the human being to function as an agape producing machine. Agape, seeking to benefit others, is the sole purpose for our existence.
In today’s world even the simplest machines have some sort of a computer type mechanism that provides guidance, e.g. a watch. God has provided a human being with a brain far superior to any computer that enables us to effectively produce agape, and doing so demands such a mechanism.
When we think of showing agape to others, it is easy to make the mistake of assuming that knowing how to best benefit others is obvious and intuitive. Often, if not most of the time, that is not the case.
For some reason a number of street corners in Greensboro are occupied by people holding up cardboard signs asking for money. I find myself searching for the agape response. My first impulse is to lower the car window and hand out a couple of dollars. However, on further thought I wonder why these people don’t avail themselves of the scores of government programs designed to help them or why they do not reach out to a local rescue mission. This line of reasoning leads me to ask whether giving them money enables them in a lifestyle not to their best interests. I also wonder whether the money will be used for alcohol or drugs.
This analysis reveals that displaying agape requires employment of the mind with which God has equipped us. The Apostle Paul made the same point in Philippians 1:9-10. “And this I pray, that your love (agape) may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent….” Agape requires knowledge and discernment.
We realize the need to engage our minds also in seeking to identify the most loving alternative. Do I give money to the man on the street corner who seemingly is not working or do I add those dollars to the tip to the waitress in the restaurant who is a single mom that is working or do I give it toward missions?
Our minds are also needed to answer the “how much” question. Sometimes these quantitative type questions are the most difficult to answer.
In addition to the financial agape questions are ones dealing with use of our time and other resources in producing agape. We must conclude that producing agape draws heavily on our God-given mental resources.
Often well-intentioned people seek to display agape without effectively engaging their minds, which leads to wasting resources and even hurting those they were seeking to help. This sort of misguided agape is addressed in Marvin Olasky’s book, The Tragedy of American Compassion.
In functioning as an agape producing machine, good intentions are not enough. God has equipped us with a mind that we must employ in order to be effective.