One of the definitions of “jaded” from Merriam-webster.com says, “[M]ade dull, apathetic, or cynical by experience or by having or seeing too much of something.” Has that happened in your service to Jesus?
Let’s look at a couple of scriptures first:
James (James 1:27) says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Paul said (Philippians 2:3-4), “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Paul also said (Galatians 6:10), “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
So, where are we at for this little instruction? Well, James tells us that if our religion is pure, then we will help orphans and widows as well as keep ourselves from getting stained by influences of the world. The “world” refers to ungodly influences. If you are a Christian, you experience this in daily life.
God instructs you through his word and through his Spirit dwelling within you to do certain things and not do certain things. However, in daily life, we have family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and strangers who do not see a problem with many of the things we choose not to do nor do they see a necessity in committing to do some of the things we know that we must do.
The Apostle Paul speaks to us through inspiration of the Holy Spirit telling us to hold others in a regard that is higher than what we hold ourselves. He also tells us to not just concern ourselves with our own problems but to concern ourselves with the problems of others as well. In the verse from Galatians, Paul tells us plainly to “do good” to everyone, “especially” to those who are followers of Christ.
At this point, you may be thinking about how you do take time to pray for people. Well, then there is a little instruction from James:
James 2:14-17 (ISV)
(14) What good does it do, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not prove it with actions? This kind of faith cannot save him, can it?
(15) Suppose a brother or sister does not have any clothes or daily food
(16) and one of you tells them, “Go in peace! Stay warm and eat heartily.” If you do not provide for their bodily needs, what good does it do?
(17) In the same way, faith by itself, if it does not prove itself with actions, is dead.
If you are a reader who still has the title of this instruction in mind, you may be wondering what all this has to do with being jaded. That is where we are going next.
I do not have to expound on the verses shared so far as they are quite plain. Even the ones in King James Version English are easy to understand. We are supposed to help one another and stay clean of how unbelievers rationalize the need to do or not do certain things. We have God’s instructions given to us through Holy Spirit-inspired writers. We know that we are supposed to regard others as better than ourselves and to help everyone, especially fellow believers. Then James rounds it out by telling us to actually do the work of providing for the needs of others.
But have we become jaded? Do we rationalize the needs of others away? One of the first things that comes to mind is the scale of needs across the globe. Who has not seen the images of starving children in third-world nations during impassioned pleas to raise funds to help them? You can even get a photo of a child and stories of progress if you commit to sending in a monthly amount that is less than what many of us spend on daily treats. The monthly amount seems like a drop in the ocean of need. How could it possibly make a difference? Jaded.
Or, how about my experience? My wife and I sent a donation to a ministry helping seniors in impoverished locations where they had little food, a lack of healthcare, and not even enough fuel to adequately heat their homes during frigid winters. It was not a huge donation. I think it was around $25.
Soon after sending the small donation, we began to receive all kinds of stuff in the mail asking for more donations. As an assistant pastor, I know how much it costs to print and mail things. I was concerned that our small donation was used to just send us more pleas to help instead of actually going to help the cause we sent it for in the first place. We got free calendars and other tokens that came with more pleas to help the people we wanted to help.
I understand why ministries and secular non-profit organizations do this. It is because of our fickleness and forgetfulness. Some people need thank you’s—they need affirmations of appreciation for their generosity. Others may have felt a tug when a need was presented and sent money to help. However, the need continues next month, but the resources dwindle because people forget. Unless, of course, they are reminded with another plea.
I wonder if the continual presentation of the dire needs some organizations are attempting to relieve causes jadedness to begin. Donors give, yet the needs grow greater. Some organizations take time to demonstrate to a great degree what donor help is accomplishing. However, the pleas often show the vastness of the need, possibly causing us to wonder how our dollar a day could even begin to help. Jaded.
I got an email from a ministry telling of an elderly woman in another country who has survived awful things. Now in her old age, she grows some meager food supplies in the summer that will hopefully get her through long, cold winters. If she runs short, the little money she has is used to supplement what is missing as far as food is concerned. She then does not have enough money to purchase fuel to heat her dwelling. The story also told of how when the woman was a child, her mother could not feed her or her siblings. To ease hunger pangs just a little, the mother would let them smell a few morsels of food she had. There was not enough to actually feed anyone.
I fully believe that the story about the woman is completely true. This is a tough world to survive in under ideal circumstances, and we are not ignorant that there are many who are not nearly as blessed as we are.
I am sitting at our kitchen table typing this on a computer. It is 33 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and several inches of snow blanket the ground outside. I am sitting next to the furnace vent and am toasty warm. I am surrounded by cabinets filled with food. Our refrigerator and freezer are not empty. I can go to the sink and turn on the tap to get fresh cold or hot water. Electricity is used to illuminate my surroundings. Even our dogs have a bag of premium dog food next to their food dishes, and they are resting comfortably with full bellies. The poor old woman I read about has none of that, but yet I debate with myself on whether or not $25 sent to the ministry will even begin to help. Jaded.
I burn with a desire within me to help everyone, yet I feel so inadequate in whatever effort I can muster. Being completely honest, I look at some situations where I may be able to do something small and sometimes do nothing due to the vastness of the need and the continuation of the need month after month and year after year where I desire to be of some help. That is being jaded.
We often interpret 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 as applicable to preaching the Gospel. Here is the quote from Paul:
1 Corinthians 3:6-8
(6) I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
(7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
(8) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
I submit that this passage of scripture might also be applicable to every effort we put forth in service to Jesus, including giving of our substance to help those who are struggling to survive with little or nothing. We each have a part in it, but God provides the increase!
I submit that we should pray and give according to our individual means. And if we feel that what we our giving is not being used wisely, then we should pray about what to do next rather than becoming jaded over a negative experience.
As far as organizations are concerned, we can ask what is the revenue percentage put toward marketing the work of the ministry as well as percentages of other overhead that does not actually make it into the field. One simple number offered by many organizations is the amount of money of each dollar that actually makes it into the real work the organization is hoping to accomplish.
As a side note, do not be discouraged by salary totals. Full-time workers need to be paid, and the highest operational cost for almost every company is paying wages and salaries. However, it may be nice to know if the CEO is making an exorbitant amount, especially for a religious non-profit.
Note, however, that we are instructed not to muzzle the oxen that are working in the grain fields (Deuteronomy 25:4 and 1 Timothy 5:18). It means to let them eat of what they are helping the farmer to harvest, and Paul applies it to people working in the fields of harvesting souls for Jesus too.
This is just the beginning of how we can become jaded. What about praying for the sick or injured? What about praying for that church addition where building fund donations have been taken in for years yet no addition has been built?
I submit that if we notice even a hint of having become jaded that we pray and pick a Godly project the Holy Spirit puts on our heart to accomplish, one where we can see a relatively immediate and positive result. Even if we find our own selves with meager means, there is always something we can do to minister to the need of another who is in a situation of being less fortunate. Use what you have. Be faithful in the small things (Zechariah 4:10). Abandon jadedness for the promise of the increase provided by God for your efforts in service to Him.