Charity, as defined in our world today, is regularly thought of as just giving to someone in need, or some charitable organization. Often people in harder circumstances are referred to as “charity cases.” But Charity has been defined in the scriptures as something different. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Charity is loving others as we feel His love, and extending that love, through our actions to someone else. But what is love? In our day it seems like a fleeting feeling that deals with emotions and physical intimacy rather than what love truly is.
To figure out what love is, we need to go to the source, to the person who is Charity, Jesus Christ. He exemplified love, and none of it had to do with physical intimacy, rather to do with how He treated people in everyday situations. He offers us the perfect example of how to love everyone we come in contact with, how to have real charity, real love.
Jesus was Charity. He went out of His way to help the ones who were hurt. He sought out the weak, the alone, the outcast and He included them. He offered forgiveness that only He could grant but showed us our need to forgive others as many times as necessary. He did not judge based upon perceived righteousness but based upon the heart. He had time for any who came to Him, indeed, even those who simply reached out to touch the hem of His robe. He not only cared for, but taught and instructed, striving to help us all know how to become better people.
So, what do we learn about Charity from Jesus? We learn that it is not some tingly feeling we get when we are around certain people. Rather, love and thus Charity are a frame of mind, a way to be. And the best way to feel love? To extend it to others. Seek out opportunities to serve or help our neighbor. Look for opportunities to give someone the benefit of the doubt, or to extend forgiveness even when we know we weren’t in the wrong. Take time to listen carefully to someone else’s perspective, even if we disagree with their perspective. Listening to understand is a great way to show Charity for someone else. Listening may not change our perspective, but at least we took the opportunity to understand someone else’s. Charity can even extend to simple everyday things we do. Open a door for someone, allow someone in front of us while driving. Instead of being engrossed in our phones, look up and look around. Talk to the people we come in contact with whether randomly while we’re out and about, or more thoughtfully with our family and close friends. Smile at the people we see every day. It’s amazing how wonderful it is to see people’s smiling faces with everything that has happened in our world the last few years. Take care of the poor and needy with a willing heart, not begrudgingly or with the attitude that we are somehow better. We are all children of God trying to navigate this crazy world, regardless of social standing or worldly wealth.
I am definitely not perfect at extending Charity to those around me. I regularly catch myself judging, thinking that somehow, they must have brought their circumstances upon themselves by their choices or actions, which may or may not be true, but that is beside the point. Regardless of how we each found ourselves in the situations we are in, we need to be kind, to be understanding, and to love each other. This week I am going to work on Charity. Work on seeing people as Jesus sees them, and work on being a little more kind, a little more forgiving, a little more compassionate with people. I am also going to work on looking up and smiling at everyone I come in contact with. My ultimate goal will be to someday become perfect at giving Christ-like love. But this week, I am working on become just a little bit better than I was last week.