Charity Defined

Charity Defined

Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.  For charity shall cover a multitude of sins.  —1 Corinthians 13:13 (King James Version).

Jesus Christ was continually going about telling others about the true message of salvation.  Many times, however, He would tell the message of the kingdom of God in parable form because He did not want people to know the message (Matt. 13:11, 14-17, 35; Mark 4:33-34).  One such parable is found in Luke 11:41.  Jesus told the Pharisees the true gospel in parable form.  A parable is a riddle, a dark saying (Ezek. 17:2; Psalm 78:2) or a figurative language (John 16:25).

Jesus said in Luke 11:41, “Give that which is within to charity, and then all things are clean for you.”  Let’s say it in plain language instead of in a mystery form or a figurative language.  “Make yourself a new heart, one that is charitable, and I will forgive all your sins.  Continually do good to please Me and I will make you clean by forgiving your sins.”

Remember, the Pharisees did their righteousness out in the open to be seen of men, so they would be thought of as righteous.  Jesus said you must do your righteousness in secret from within, and glorify your Father in heaven by your good works.

Charity covers a multitude of sins and makes you clean (1 Peter 4:8).  Charity is serving the poor, the needy, the lame, the blind, the elderly, the widow and the orphan.  Charity is helping those who need clothes, those who need money, those who need help, those who need love or compassion.  All these things and more are covered by the word charity.  What does Webster’s Dictionary have to say about charity?

Webster’s New International Dictionary, 1909 says:

Charity, n.;1. Christian love; of the New Testament; a. the divine love to man; b. Human love to God and one’s neighbor.  Christian love of one’s fellow men; Christian benevolence;

2. More generally, love; benevolence; good will; affection; an act or feeling of affection or benevolence. 

3. Liberality or lenience in judging of men and their actions; a disposition that inclines men to put the best construction on the words and actions of others.  The highest exercise of charity is charity toward the uncharitable. 

4. Good will to the poor and suffering; liberality to the poor, to benevolent institutions, or to worthy causes; generosity; charitableness; alms giving; hence; the public provision for the care or relief of the poor. 

5. Acts or works of benevolence to the poor.

6. Whatever is bestowed gratuitously on the needy or the suffering for their relief; alms.

After reading these definitions of the word charity, look up 1 Corinthians 13.  In the many translations of the Bible, “love” has been corruptly substituted for the word “charity.”  If you look up the Greek word translated “love” (Strong’s Concordance reference no. 26) in The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament, you will discover it is often translated “charity” in the King James Version.  A few examples are 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Colossians 3:14, 2 Timothy 3:10 and Titus 2:2.

It’s evident when you look at the dictionary definitions of charity that charity is all God ever expected from anyone who would profess His name.

God would live a life full of charity if He were walking among us in the flesh today.  This is how we are to live on earth and imitate Him as He lives in heaven (Eph. 5:1).  This is how God’s Will is done on this earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10).  Very simple, but simply not known, not preached, or not practiced by the majority of those who proclaim to be disciples of Jesus Christ (Luke 6:46).

To listen to this article, click here to take you to the voice-over edition.