We tend to equate charity with helping the poor.
Seems I wrote another post about this. Perhaps I simply need to expand my thoughts.
The word charity is used in the KJV of the Bible and it means love. Lets take a little trip with the word charity.
Charity in 1 Corinthians 13 means love. Better, yet, the Greek word that was translated by King James to ‘charity’, is agape. ( αγαπην)
The definition of agape: 25.43 αγαπαωa; αγαπηa, ης f: to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard — ‘to love, to regard with affection, loving concern, love.’
“GREEK–ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BASED ON SEMANTIC DOMAINS,” L&N, n.p.
Ok, the word agape in the Bible means a very high form of love, respect, sincere appreciation.
Why was it translated to ‘charity’ by King James?
Let’s look at the origin of the word ‘charity’.
The English word ‘charity’ is from old French: charite, from Latin cāritās affection, love, from cārus, dear.
So we are back to the word ‘love’. Charity is respect, appreciation, love. And we use it in helping each other, not just some group of people who we label ‘poor’.
Ever hear: There but for the grace of God go I? It means we are all created with the same weaknesses in the same flawed world. We need each other. Jesus said we are to love each other. He said: “I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me.””
(Matthew 25:42–43 CEV):
Jesus did not say, “I was hungry but your government didn’t give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but your government didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, but your government didn’t welcome me, and I was naked, but your government didn’t give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but your government didn’t take care of me.
He left the obligation to YOU. And he said: “The king will say to them, “Whenever YOU failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, YOU failed to do it for me.”
Then Jesus said, “Those people will be punished forever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life.””
(Matthew 25:45–46 CEV)
If we are believers, we must rethink Jesus’ words. His Spirit living in us gives us love for each other which translates into action, just as Jesus’ love for us led him to die. Love, then, is an action word, Love is charity.