Charity: A How, Not a What
When people use the word
charity they are actually talking about a glorified pan handler that works on their sympathies for those who are destitute. They are usually complaining about the very real possibility that their moment of weakness towards their fellow man probably resulted in lining the pockets of some rather unscrupulous fraud who didn't tell them that the percentage actually donated verses the "administrative costs" was a ratio sufficient to re-harden the heart of the person speaking. It convinces them that if there is any giving to be done they will do it themselves which of course never actually happens but moving on.
Perhaps, if when you saw the title, your mind gravitated to such thoughts perhaps it is worth mentioning that while they call religious grifting charity, that isn't the definition of the word. We should define it therefore for the purposes of discussion as a form of love. What kind of love we are talking about can be looked on as love in its purest nature. There are scriptures that come to mind for most Christians when they talk about love because thinking about the concept of charity made the writers of the NIV Bible's head hurt. One scripture kind of refers to the other major scripture on this subject which contaminates things a little bit but may get us closer to the truth then might be expected.
The first scripture deals with, "Greater Love....” Someone else probably knows and cares where those words are found in scripture but it is more important that most people actually can recite it in their mind enough that I don't care to repeat either the entire scripture or where it is found. The other scripture is one you will see inappropriately displayed at sports games by those who wish to give some rational reason why they are breaking one definition of the Sabbath and calling it missionary work. I don't think I have to go further then that in describing it before that too pops into your head. The link however between these two concepts is instructive. There is something about the type of sacrifice that these two scriptures describe that Jesus and the Father made that is analogous to the actions of one who sacrifices him or herself for their neighbor and having done this much has charity.
Hmm do tell captain obvious. Perhaps it is obvious to you but when I first started to ask this question it wasn't to me. As one who has always had to question the foundations of my emotions because they were always out of whack this question bore special importance to me. And as one who had run ins with abuse that kind of burnt out my sense of the fluffy and light hearted, it was a concept that I couldn't feel my way to understanding. It wasn't so important to me what sort of things had been done in the name of love that were commendable. I hadn't seen much of that in my life growing up to understand what the scriptures were talking about. I grew up analyzing people and boiling them down to their basest natures to rate people on a threat scale. I however am a devout Christian and considered that other scriptures described showing charity as the highest form of love. If this was supposed to be a concept which should define who I was, am now or supposed to be, then, according to the record I needed to know how to do it and not just pronounce it. If I couldn't manage that, the scriptures seemed to point to my life as being null and void of purpose and worth.
I therefore decided to make a study, not of the analogies that people throw in your face every time you ask the question, "What is love." I however had to face the functional reality that I am not committing suicide for anyone just because that seems to be the only literal outlet. Maybeif a perilous situation and its end result pivoted on my earthly presence or termination there of I might be persuaded to do so but on the whole, I have seen little in life that insures happiness for someone else if you happen to expire. Due to my genetics, military service is out so those noble heroes I can’t do anything for. With all due respect I wish I could but those dreams are so much vapor and air.
Be those matters as they may, I came to the conclusion that if I love someone, then I should be ready and willing to bend out of my path to see that they get back to the God they believe in. Surely this was what the Lord and the Father did when they made their sacrifices in turn. If I love someone then I will see to their comfort and happiness as it is within my power to do so. I will help others change their natures to patterns that will result in happiness whenever the opportunity arises and above all I will keep my eyes open for such opportunities. This is all I can do. I pray to God that it is enough.