“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
In the original text, the Greek word translated with “love” in the above quoted verses is Agape, which can also be translated as charity, seeking the best for others. The word charity is derived from a Latin word ‘caritas’ which means generous love.
Isn’t that incredible? If you put into Google search ‘what does charity mean?’ or maybe ask Google or Siri or Alexa, or if you are old fashioned, getting a dictionary would work just as well too, within seconds of your search the following definition or similar would pop up in answer to your question; “an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need” or “the voluntary giving of help to those in need.
I was secretly hoping that the dictionary definition would also say something about love. I was honestly a little disappointed because charity without love is a chore, a burden. It is like building a house without a foundation, it might hold for a while and even look beautiful to passersby but with time it will not stand. Love is the element that sets charity apart and it is the fuel that will keep it going when the going gets tough. So if we establish that charity works at its best when love is the foundation, what makes up its walls, doors and windows? Here’s my take on that:
Charity cannot be done effectively without community. In thinking about and setting up our charity, we quickly realized that it would not and could not be a two-man-show. There is so much that we do not know, so much that we cannot do, so much we cannot anticipate, however as we lean into others who are willing to cover our weaknesses with their strengths and show us our blind spots and a better way of getting things done, charity really begins to take shape and be impactful. Life cannot be lived to its full potential in isolation, and likewise charities will never function at their full potential without community. Community is simply a group of people with whom you have built a friendship; this friendship is founded on common interests, hobbies, and values.
Are you surrounded by a community of people who will hold you up and hold you accountable? For Charity to thrive, all of life really, it takes community. Get into community.
Everything we do flows from the heart, literally everything. It is the center of a person's thoughts and emotions. The heart is a good place to examine our motives. Are our motives driven by love, compassion, loyalty? Take some time and examine your heart, what do you find?
The crazy thing about availability is that it is a choice. Like most other things in life we have the element of choice on our side. We easily avail ourselves, our time and our resources for the benefit of others when we deem it significant enough.
Doing ‘good’ is not a matter of time but rather a matter of willingness. You make time for what matters to you. This does not mean we magically cause more time to appear that we did not have before, but rather that we relook at our priorities and reprioritize what matters most to us, what we care about. When we begin to prioritize others, their needs, their pain and their suffering, we will make the necessary time to help. Are you creating space in your schedule and making yourself available for the things, causes and people you care about?
Recognizing that charity is a responsibility given to us by God and we answer to him is huge. Sometimes we read the Bible in casual ways and pick and choose what we like from it, but we are asked and tasked to care for the poor, the orphans and the widows. The means by which we do this are left open, thank God for that, but we definitely have a God given responsibility to look out for those around us in lesser situations than our own.
Are you willing to take up this enormous responsibility in whichever capacity God has given you?
I love this word! Having integrity is being honest and upright, having a strong moral compass. Saying what you will do and doing what you said, be it in secret or in public. It is so easy to cut corners, to deceive, to make personal gain unjustly. It is so easy to desire grandeur and recognition at the expense of having integrity. In a world where this is becoming a rare quality, be that person. Make every effort to be known as a person of integrity. More can be said to this point, but it will simply be stating the obvious. Be that person.
I like this word a lot – disclaimer: I like a lot of words. Tenacity speaks of persistence, not easily giving up or being discouraged. We have only just begun our charity journey but I know as with so much else in life, the road will get tough, the going will not always be easy. Decide today whatever your plans are that you will not give up. Make up your mind now that you will stay the course. Nothing in life that is really worthwhile comes without a cost, be it time, energy or resource, so decide what is worth your time, energy and resources and stay the course. Doing good and serving others can take different forms, find where God wants you to be, what he wants you to do, who he wants you to serve and stay the course.
Be part of the change. I have been guilty of placing the responsibility for change on the imaginary ‘other’. I have been guilty of minimizing what I can do and amplifying what another could. I have been guilty of seeing myself as a ‘grasshopper’ amid giants of need, pain and suffering. However the older I get, the more I come to realize that even though my efforts may seem the size of a ‘grasshopper’ amid giants of need, there is still something that I can do. It may be little and in my eyes insignificant, but whatever I do brings about some change. The same applies to you.
Care enough to see the needs around you. Care enough to give from what you have to help those who do not have. Care enough to show up. Charity begins with YOU.
I’m just saying…
GET TO KNOW US
Nakuona is a Swahili word that means ‘I SEE YOU’. We are a charity with the heart to help improve the quality of life for orphans in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our future hope is to expand this support into other African and third world countries, letting the children know that they are seen, that they matter. We desire to lighten the burden for the orphanages by helping to meet their most pressing needs and in so doing practically show them the love of Christ.
We would love to do this with YOU.
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