The word Charity in the New Testament means love. We can speak with the tongues of men and angels, lofty, holy, nice and kind, but if there is no love behind these words, they mean nothing. “And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not love, I am nothing”. Even if you sell all you have and give it to the poor, if we sacrifice our lives even to the point of death, and do none of these things in love, it profits us nothing. (1st Cor.1-3)
Love bears all things, knowing that God is good; love believes all things, because God’s promises are true; love hopes all things, knowing that our Savior lives; love endures all things, because we know we have a safe home waiting for us; love never fails, because He will never leave us or forsake us. We should, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, covet, as it were, the best gifts God has to offer us, but a more excellent way is to seek and follow after love. (1st Cor. 12:31)
In this study, we will be looking at the meaning of love as it is intended in the Word of God. The effects, the evidences, the signs that show the world around us, saved and unsaved, that we are the children of God. This type of love can only be given to us by the Holy Spirit, we cannot learn it on our own, it must be imparted. The recipient must be willing to receive what he does not fully understand, trusting God to lead in such a way that will glorify His name by our actions, words and deeds. It is, as we will show by the Grace of God, against everything in us to love this deeply, to be as committed to those around us as we should be, to truly have this character of the love of Christ in us. By our own will, it is impossible, by the Grace of God, all things are possible to those who through faith believe.
Charity, in the “American Dictionary of the English Language”, Noah Webster 1828, is stated as ‘that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow man, and to do them good’. We are to “love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matt. 12:33).
The world calls this the “golden rule”, but does not seriously apply it, giving to it lip service only and instead allowing pride and selfishness to reign. Think of how many people you may meet on a weekly basis who instead of saying ‘hello’ will say, ‘How are you’, yet have no real concern of how you are, they are simply exchanging ‘hello’ for ‘how are you’. Though their words may be innocent in their own minds, their heart is not directing those words. Do not think poorly of them, it is not our responsibility to correct them, I have many times fallen in this area, and it has brought animosity instead of the help intended by myself. If we would “always esteem others higher than ourselves”, our love in servitude would excuse these minor points, seeking only the best interest of that person, and then, when we ask them “How are you” we would truly mean what we say, and will take all the time necessary to listen when they answer.
Owe no one anything but love, if you do this you have fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). “Love covers a multitude of sins” and as Christ took (covered) all of our sins on the cross because He loves us, we would do well to remember how we are to love each other. To quote Bernard of Clairvaux in his book “On Loving God” “The measure of our love to God should be immeasurable”. I dare not say, and I mean this with no intended disrespect to our Lord or anyone else, that it is possible for anyone to love anyone else to this degree while we are in the flesh. The love that we share with others should abound in knowledge and wisdom. Those that we speak to will be able to tell the difference between a sincere heart and platitudes, especially pious platitudes. Always remember that when you are speaking with someone, that this person is loved greatly by God, that He sent his Son for them, and, that at least for some of them, you may be the only bible they will ever read.
“We are taught by God to love one another” (1st Thess. 4:9). As stated, this type of ‘brotherly love’ is not in anyone, saved or unsaved, by their nature, the natural man (unsaved) can never know it, and the believer is not suddenly imparted with it at their conversion, but must be taught love by our Lord. As with any teaching, sometimes the task is very difficult, and there will be many failures. Each of us have been struck by the terrible feeling that, later in the day or week, we realize we could have said more, should have done more, and now that opportunity is gone. Do not despair, He is faithful who has called you. Remember, we are being taught to love others according to the knowledge and will of God, not as we learned from the world in our un-regenerated state. To love the unlovely is not in our nature, and for each, the ‘unlovely’ has a different meaning.
“The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart” (1st Tim. 1:5) My friends, the only one who ever lived with a pure heart now sits on the right hand of The Father, yet He asks us to emulate Him in this area. There would be no need for the ten commandments if love was the driving force in our hearts, if our daily concerns always focused on those around us, their physical and spiritual needs would be our needs, and to fulfill them would be our greatest pleasure and joy.
Forgiveness is only required when there is a sin, love fulfills the law, Christ fulfilled the law. It is only because of His love that we can love others. Let Him lead you in this area of your life, listen to the Holy Spirit of our Lord as He speaks to your heart, search the Scriptures in this most blessed area, learn to be Christ-like in your love to others. He will guide you.