The word charity is frequently found within the pages of the Bible. There are many Bible translations available today, but the word charity is found primarily in the King James Version. When the Bible says charity, it nearly always means love. For example, in 1 Corinthians 13, the King James Version (KJV) translates “agape” as “charity’. Meanwhile, modern Bible translations render it as “love”, which translators think is more accurate. You can also find the word charity in Acts 9:36. The word charity in Acts refers to Dorcas, a woman that is full of good and charitable works. When we look at the Greek word, it literally means compassion towards the poor or beneficence. And as the KJV translates it, the word means “almsgiving.”
Faith Without Works is Dead
As Christians, it is essential that we care for the poor and needy. Jesus clearly emphasized in Matthew 25:34-40 that when we care for someone in need, we are doing His will. The apostle John raised a rhetorical question, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17). James, the brother of our Lord Jesus, also raised an almost identical question, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17).
While it is true that we are not saved by good works alone, taking care of the poor and needy is a reflection of our love for Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). However, let’s bear in mind that charity is evidence of our salvation. It also means that the Holy Spirit rules our hearts, and when the Holy Spirit rules our heart, then deep within we have a heart of charity.
Charity as a Tool
Doing charitable acts does not always involve money. Remember when John and Peter met a crippled beggar? In Acts 3:6, Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Giving resources as well as your time is also a form of charity. Let’s start seeing our resources as God’s blessings and provisions for us to enjoy, as well as tools to help and care for other people. We can be a blessing to other people if we exercise charity.
Christ and Charity
Is there a model for charity? Yes, absolutely! Look no further than our loving and gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. By imitating Christ, we can begin to understand and appreciate the meaning of charity. Take note that His life is the very epitome of charity. Remember how modern translators render “charity” as “love”? Well, there is no greater love or charity than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends, which is precisely what Jesus did. As you ponder on the word ‘charity’, remember ‘love’ and remember Christ. Without love and without Christ, charity is just another deed that is rooted in selfish intentions. If you want to know more about Jesus’ charitable deeds, then this article is for you!