The First Virtue- Charity

Posted: February 15, 2007 in Bible Study

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18.

“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:15-17

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:10-11

What do all these verse have in common? They are all admonitions commanding charitable giving by the individual believer. Each is grounded in different reasons. John commands charity as a sign of love in “action and in truth,” while James displays that charity is intertwined with faith and the Christian’s spiritual regeneration (those who are reborn in Christ should display a charitable attitude toward those in need). Lastly, God charges us not only to “give generously,” but to give “without a grudging heart.” In addition God attaches a promise to “bless you in all your work.”

So taken together we can answer the immortal question, why?

1) God demands we act charitably toward those in real need. When we give freely and willingly we defy the world and its covetous nature and place God’s priorities before our own.

2) Our faith, without acts of charity, is hollow and empty. How is the world to see that we have been reborn– dead to this world and alive to Christ– unless we make a point to display those priorities in our lives and budgets? The world would stress that we either hoard our resources to ourselves or squander them on baubles, fancy gadgets, and status purchases (fast cars, large homes, etc.). For in both ways we worship the false idols of wealth and expensive objects. But in charity realize the real value of our money, our role as stewards, and most importantly, we put Christ first in our life and finances.

3) This is how we love our brothers and those outside the church. The world is in need of our witness. That witness should not be a silent faith, but a lamp that shines from mountain tops. While we should not pridefully declare out charitable givings to enlarge ourselves, we should humbly and openly support charitable causes so others may see God’s love. The world has never seen Christ but we expect them to understand how He loved them, what better way than displaying love toward one another. Love (charity) from within the church provides strong bricks to build upon the firm foundation of Christ. Love (charity) to those outside the church witnesses God’s love for the fallen that “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,” [2 Peter 3:9] “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” [1 John 3:16]
How can we give in a biblical and Christ-centered fashion?

1) Know your own responsibilities. Don’t expect the church to care for the poor and use your tithe as an “I gave at the office” excuse. Take care of your family (and extended family) as God makes you able. “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” 1 Timothy 5:16.

2) Give first to brothers, than to the world. There are many Christians who would gladly feed their neighbor, but think little (and provide nothing) for their brothers in Christ suffering throughout the world. We glory in our salvation surrounded by the riches of the world, yet we pay no heed to the torture and suffering of the tens of thousands who cry, bleed, and die for Christ. One of the greatest corporate sins of the church in this century is its failure to reach out to and support those suffering and dying for our Savior. We as individuals are little better. Our pastors say nary a word about those suffering for Christ, and not only are our wallets closed to their needs our ears are deaf to their cries.

See also

2 Corinthians 9:6-15: God knows what you have to give. Even if you aren’t wealthy, God judges you according to your heart, not compared to your neighbor. See also

Matthew 25: 14-30: God wishes us to invest. To invest in his word, to invest in the fallen, to invest in discipleship. God does not want us to hoard and hide our spiritual gifts, our testimony, His word, or those material blessings He has kindly lent us. For those who invest wisely and willingly, they will hear their Savior and King say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

  1. PB and J says:

    here here.

    love is drastically needed and rarely found.

    the only thing i am not sure i agree with you about is the statement, provide for your bro first and then the world. i feel that we must love our bro, yes, but we cant love the world any less.

    i will have a much more open twosided relationship with a bro. but i must still demonstrate my love to the world, especially my enemies. JC says “you have heard it said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but i tell you love your enemy.” its much harder to love our enemy than our bro. it comes naturally to love our bro (although if we arent then there is a problem too). but most of us have a very very hard time loving our enemy (i didnt say loving the easy to love people of the world, but the bullies and the hateful and the hurtful and the despicable, etc).

    how many Jews do you think love hitler? how many slaves in the US loved their masters? how many of us love our bosses who are real jerks?

    may the love of Christ fill us all

  2. I think we don’t disagree in the least on any of these propositions.

    I did not intend to communicate that our love to those in the world should be less than that given to those in the church. What I intended to say is similar to the sentiment expressed by Paul in Galatians (Chapter 6 verse 10):

    “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

    To give a modern example. I know many Christians who give freely to their local soup kitchen, People for the American Way, or other secular charities. Yet they don’t sponsor charities that deliver assistance (both spiritual and worldly) to those suffering for God’s word.

    Beyond that, I am amazed by how few Christians understand the depth of Christian persecution in the Middle East and Asia. And knowing nothing of the situation, they certainly don’t send a dime to comfort those who suffer for Christ (unless their church happens to use tithe money for such things).

    So I concur, we should love our enemies. That love should be expressed in kindness, charity, and most importantly, sharing the Gospel. However, as a part of the church body we have a unique obligation to care for our brothers- especially those bearing the brunt of the world’s (and the adversary’s) hatred for Christ and his Church.

    In Christ,
    John Kaiser

  3. PB and J says:


    amen to that. i think you are right about the west not understanding the depth of persecution of the church other places. i just finished “the heavenly man” about a chinese house church leader and evangelist. incredible testimony, but also really eyeopening about the suffering.

    i think you are right about loving the body as well. “by this all men will know you are my disciples”. and this is much needed in our divisive church the world around. and really i believe that lovign our bros is itself a witness. “preaching” the gospel will only be possible as we love our bro and love the world. when men see our good deeds, then they may praise our Father in heaven.


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