As Paul tells the Corinthians, charity is kindness, long-suffering, humility, slowness to anger, goodness, rejoicing in the truth, and enduring to the end (1 Cor 13:4-8). As a translation from the Greek ‘agape,’ this charity is the highest form of love: a selfless and pure love for God combined with an ardent concern for the well-being of others, His children.
I participated in a great discussion about living charitably with the women’s group in my church recently. The discussion leader didn’t focus on the theoretical meaning of charity at all. Instead, we talked about real actions we can employ in our everyday lives. Here are a few to consider.
We can celebrate other people’s success. It’s pretty easy to acknowledge and congratulate a person for an achievement.
We can lift someone’s spirits, even if only by offering compassion, loyalty and understanding.
We can help others overcome obstacles: opening a door, reaching down an item from a high shelf, small gestures that have lasting impact.
We can notice and remember details. Does she like milk or dark chocolate best? What are her kids’ names?
We can gather items we don’t use and give them to someone in need. These should be useful, necessary things, not stuff that is better off in the garbage.
We can be aware of others who may need our help then stop to offer that help. I still remember with sincere gratitude the man who helped me change a flat tire at the top of a mountain pass in a snowstorm. He could have passed me by, but I’m really glad he didn’t.
We can help out when it’s needed so others can rest. This is a great one in families. We can compassionately be aware of when someone (read: Mom!) just needs a break then offer it.
We can remember to tell others how much we love them. Sure, we love our family members and we’re probably used to telling them we do. But we also develop love and appreciation for co-workers, neighbors, and friends. Why not say the words once in a while? “You know, I love you!”
We can be thankful, consciously feel gratitude every day. Even if everything else is going wrong, I’m still grateful I have indoor plumbing and running water – every single day.
We can listen to someone else’s story with love, not judgment. Very often people of all ages, including children, just need to be heard. We can’t always fix things, but we can listen.
And finally, we can greet people with a smile. How easy is that? A smile! Has a smile ever changed your day? Pass it on.
Living charitably is intentional love. It’s an attitude we can cultivate to make life better for ourselves and anyone else in our sphere. It’s the love Christ has for us, the pure love of Christ. Let’s practice!