1st Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
This passage of scripture describes for us the very essence of Christianity, which is charity unfeigned, out of a sincere and converted heart. The verses raise the prospect that a person can have and exercise faith that can move mountains, and speak in tongues or several languages, without having the fundamentals of a Christlike character, which include a kind and benevolent disposition.
Uniform and consistent kindness, coupled together with a disposition to put others first, constitutes the core principles upon which our characters are to be developed by the grace of God, and anything that does not foster or encourage these basic truths is antagonistic to true Christianity.
Not only should charity be exercised and cultivated as a tender plant, but we should also develop a keen eye to seek out those who are in need, with the motive of lending a helping hand whenever and wherever it is in order to do so. This is what Christ did as He went from place to place on a daily basis, for He not only healed the diseases of the people when asked to, but He also diligently sought out those who were in need of help and offered them the assistance they needed, whether spiritual or temporal in nature. On one such occasion a man that had become impotent on account of a sinful lifestyle, was approached by Jesus, and although the man never asked Christ for anything, yet The Lord saw fit to offer the disabled man physical and spiritual healing, thereby again manifesting those natural characteristics of benevolence and charity. Let's read:
John 5:5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? 7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. 8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked".
However, a very important manivestation of the characteristic of charity is that it never knowingly enables or helps a person to continue in a wrong course of action, for then it works contrary to the upright purposes that it was meant to serve. In other words kindness is never foolish, and should not lead us to encourage a person in bad habits or in destructive behaviors. In the instance of the impotent man, Christ highlighted this essential aspect of charity so that we may be guided in the exercise of good benevolent work. Let's read:
John 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
There are those who are in dire need of help who may cross our path from day to day, and we may wonder what can be done to help them in a constructive way. For instance, a man might be very hungry and in need of food, yet he may have a drug addiction problem that overrides good common sense, to the point where any financial assistance given him may be spent on doing drugs, instead of purchasing food. True charity, as displayed by Christ in the previous passages, will dictate that the man's real need be also addressed in addition to the necessary food that he craves, lest by trying to help him quickly without thought or due consideration, we end up financing the local drug pusher instead of helping the hungry man. Often in the exercise of good works we are found to be in a hurry, and thus the thoughtful care that should characterize good charitable work is often absent.
Let us therefore seek God daily for wisdom and discretion, so that benevolence would be coupled together with good common sense. In this way God will be greatly honored since the godly characteristic of charity will not be employed in a manner that is opposed to the uplifting of humanity. This is what Job did on a regular basis, and his example was chronicled in the scriptures so that we too in our own experiences may be guided in sensible paths. Let's read:
Job 29:12 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. 13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. 15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. 16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
Let us therefore put on as the elect of God, bowels of mercy, so that as we travel life's pathway from day to day, the principle of charity and benevolence will find true meaning and exercise in our daily experiences with those we come in contact with. God bless!