The Virtue of Charity comes down to how we love our neighbor as ourselves. And this can take many forms
The Victory in Virtue Series
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another entry in the Victory in Virtue series. Today’s post is on the Virtue of Charity.
While Faith and Hope were based more on what we think and believe, the Virtue of Charity is more based on what we do. The Virtue of Charity is about how we love others as we love ourselves, as the price of the Blood of our LORD Jesus. We do things for them out of love, as everyone else was created in God’s image, just like us. As long as it’s motivated by love, it’s Charity. As for what we do for others, well, the Virtue of Charity includes so much more than simply donating money to causes. Charity is many things.
So that’s what today’s post is about. It’s a long post again, so let’s get straight into it.
What Is the Virtue of Charity?
When we hear “Charity,” probably the first thing most think of is donations. Donating to charitable organizations or causes, fundraising, and so on.
Others might think about what “Charity” means. What does a charitable organization do? They help feed, clothe, and shelter the poor. They help educate people. They help all kinds of people in a great variety of ways. And all this help is good. The world is better off with it than without it. But true Charity is more than this. True Charity falls on us. True Charity doesn’t hinge on donations, it hinges on what we do in our day to day lives.
The Virtue of Charity is so much more than charitable donations! Donations are important, but the Virtue of Charity lies in loving God above all and loving our neighbor for God’s sake as the two great commandments of Charity.
How we show Charity to those around us is so much more important than where we send our donations, or how much we give. We most likely won’t meet any of the people who are helped by our charitable donations. We don’t run into them in our daily life. These people are less “real” than a beggar (for example) who we actually encounter in our neighborhood, in the real world. If we show Charity to people we’ll never meet, but we angrily reject the begging of people we encounter in real life, then we don’t have the Virtue of Charity. And we anger the LORD when we angrily reject our fellow man.
I wrote an entire post about this recently, entitled “Fake Kindness, Real Sin.” Check that out for more about how our Charity can be fake but our malice real. Never forget the most important thing is how we treat the people we encounter in the real world. We can treat them with kindness (Charity) or rejection and judgment (malice).
The Virtue of Charity comes down to how we love our neighbor as ourselves. And this can take many forms.
There are many ways we can love our neighbor, so there are many ways to show the Virtue of Charity. We could donate our time and labor to help a neighbor who has a hard time doing things on their own (perhaps elderly or something). Our help could mean a great deal and make their life easier for a time. That’s a loving thing to do. We could sacrifice our time and volunteer with an organization that helps people in our community.
We can lend an ear and listen to a friend or neighbor who needs someone to talk to. By being there to listen as they let it all out, we are helping relieve their burden and living up to the words of Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
True Charity always costs us something. Maybe we only have $5 left in your wallet, but if someone begs us for money we should give it to them (Matthew 5:42), especially if that is how we would want to be treated if we were in that situation. Charity is a sacrifice, one with no reward in this lifetime. It’s a sacrifice of time, money, labor, something else, or all these things. Have Faith that God sees what we do and accepts our sacrifice as worthy and satisfying! This is a sacrifice motivated by love, after all. It’s motivated by love for our neighbor. That is, if we’re truly practicing the Virtue of Charity. It’s possible for us to corrupt our Charity by having the wrong intentions.
Our true intentions are always very important when performing Charity. Since only we and God know our true intentions, this calls for personal accountability. If we announce a Charitable donation on social media, and our true intention is getting likes and comments, then we have already received our reward here in the world, in this lifetime. Do Charity and stay humble by saying nothing about it, and God will see what we do in secret and reward us (Matthew 6:2-4). And don’t forget that the real rewards are those we’ll receive in our true life, in Heaven. Still, we might gain something here on earth though.
We can gain worldly rewards from Charitable donations, such as possible tax deductions, fundraiser rewards, and so on. It’s okay to quietly take those things which we’re entitled to, but if we donate to get those things, that isn’t fulfilling the Virtue of Charity. It’s our intention that matters the most.
Our Charity can be corrupted if we have the wrong intentions. Always make sure our acts of Charity are motivated by love for God shown by love for our neighbor. If we stop and make sure that this is always our true intention, then we won’t go wrong. Our Virtue of Charity won’t be corrupted.
And remember that there are many ways to show love for our neighbor through Charity. We could sacrifice our time and effort to help them with something at their house. We can sit and listen to their troubles. These things are acts of Charity too, and very Virtuous. This kind of Charity is still a sacrifice (time and effort), and it’s more real than donating to some faraway organization, because we’re helping someone we actually know. This kind of act embodies the Virtue of Charity, and is a more pleasing sacrifice to God. When we do our acts of Charity, let’s try to figure out how we can make a real and immediate impact for people in our community.
There’s more to say about the Virtue of Charity, but I hope you get the idea of it. Now let’s move on to some prayers for the Virtue of Charity.
Prayers for the Virtue of Charity
There are many prayers we could pray to receive the Virtue of Charity. The best ones of course will be the ones that we create ourselves—the ones that come straight from the heart. Remember: When we pray we aren’t trying to say the right combination of words to unlock something in Heaven. No, that would be magic, which is an abomination to the LORD. Prayer is much simpler. Simply tell the LORD what you want, what you need, what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, and so on.
Praying for a Virtue is a great way to build it up. It’s one of the best ways, actually. So here are a few short, simple prayers for the Virtue of Hope you can try adding to your prayer routine.
The Price of the Blood of Jesus
Here’s another Catholic prayer I have “De-Catholicized” so that it’s safe to pray. Meaning, I took out all content about the saint this prayer was addressed to. Because saints (or Mary) are not moderators between God and mankind. There is only one moderator between God and man, and that’s the human being, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). There is nothing in the Bible that says we should pray to anything besides Jesus Christ, the LORD.
But speaking of Jesus, He did teach us the two great commandments of Charity. First, love God above all. Second love our neighbor, who was created in the image of God, as we love ourselves. This prayer is about that.
O God of Love, Most Perfect Being, Creator of All That is Good and Beautiful, deign to help us by Your powerful grace to love You above all and love our neighbor as ourselves for Your Sake as the Image and Likeness of You, as the price of the Blood of Jesus, so that we may faithfully adhere to the two great commandments of charity not only in word, but in action and in truth, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Save Me from Fake Kindness
This is a prayer for avoiding the trap I described in the post, Fake Kindness, Real Sin. We want our Charity to be real and directed at people who we actually encounter in our lives in the real world. We don’t want to be charitable to faraway people we likely will never meet, but get angry at the people we really deal with. If we fall into that trap, then our Charity is fake and our malice (the anger, judgment, etc.) is real.
So let’s pray we don’t fall into that trap.
LORD, please grant me the Virtues of Charity and Patience so I will be kind and considerate to all I encounter. Please grant me the grace to not let people irritate me. Grant me the Wisdom to know when I’m being uncharitable to the people I encounter in my daily life. Please save me from falling in to the trap of showing Charity to faraway people I’ll never meet, while showing malice to those I deal with. Amen.
Grant Me Ingenuity for Charity
Like I said above, there are many ways for us to practice the Virtue of Charity. It’s so much more than donating money. We can also practice the Virtue of Charity by donating our time or labor. We can help out our neighbors, especially those who have trouble doing things for themselves. We can practice Charity by taking time to visit and talk to our neighbors. By taking time to listen to what’s troubling them, and sharing their burden that way. That’s a sacrifice of time and emotional energy, it’s definitely an act of Charity.
The ideas for practicing the Virtue of Charity are endless and full of variety. Let’s pray to the LORD for Wisdom, so we recognize opportunities to practice Charity and can think of the best ideas for doing it.
LORD, thank You that the possibilities for practicing Charity are endless. Thank You that there are so many ways we can show love and kindness to our neighbor, for Your sake. Please grant me the Wisdom to recognize opportunities for practicing the Virtue of Charity in my life. Please grant me the Wisdom to see where problems are, and to recognize what I can do to help. Please grant me the ingenuity to come up with new and interesting ideas for showing Charity to other people. Please grant me the strength and fortitude to see these projects through to the end, and the Wisdom to perform them efficiently and effectively. Amen.
Again, there are so many options for praying for any Virtue. I could go on and on and on. Everyone is always welcome to leave a comment with prayers of their own.
But once we’re done praying, it’s time to take action (in the physical world). Let’s move on to that now.
Living the Virtue
To cultivate a Virtue, we must also practice it, and do that consistently. Don’t just do it a few times and stop there—stay consistent. That consistency is how you build up a habit. It’s also how you cultivate and strengthen a virtue.
So how can we do that with Charity? Let’s look at a few practical ideas. And remember: These are only a start! The possibilities are endless. I welcome any comments with good ideas about this.
Here are just a few ideas of how we can live out the Virtue of Charity in our own lives:
- Give money, snacks, or water, etc., to beggars to the best of your circumstances (Matthew 5:40-42)
- If someone owes you money, forgive them the full amount of principal and interest (Luke 6:34-35)
- Donate your time and labor by volunteering or assisting neighbors in need, etc.
- And other ideas you can think of!
First, there’s the obvious. Remember Matthew 5:40-42, and to the best of your ability, give freely to those who ask.
(40) When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. (41) When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. (42) Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.Matthew 5:40-42 (CEB)
Remember the whole part about fake kindness (Charity) and real sin. Even if you have nothing to give, don’t lose your temper with anyone who asks for something. There but for the grace of God go us all. So let’s show the LORD our gratitude for our blessings of not needing to beg for our daily bread. Let’s show Him our gratitude by giving what we can to those less fortunate, and by treating them with kindness all the time, no matter what.
Next, if someone owes us money, we can practice the Virtue of Charity by forgiving the loan. The whole thing. Principle and interest. This kind of generosity seems extreme, but it’s nothing compared to the generosity God has shown us with His free offer of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Jesus explained this in Luke 6:34-35.
(34) If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full. (35) Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people.Luke 6:34-35 (CEB)
God the Most High is kind to sinners. He is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. He accepts our repentance and forgives us our sins. He forgives the most grievous sins we could ever commit, and He offers us eternal life. The least we can do to repay this unearned generosity He gives us is to forgive any loans we’ve made. Lending money at interest is unBiblical anyway. Jesus taught us, in Luke 6, to lend expecting nothing in return. Let’s follow His example, and show Charity and generosity to others in gratitude for the generosity shown to us.
Finally, the most important idea. The Virtue of Charity involves sacrifice. This can be a sacrifice of money, time, effort, and so on. If you’re giving it up, you’re on the right track. Now, what’s best to give up? Like I’ve said a few times now, Charity involves so much more than giving money.
Sacrificing our time, effort, and emotional energy are all pleasing sacrifices to God. So getting involved in volunteer activities is a great choice. Helping our neighbors get things done—especially the ones who have trouble doing things—is a great act of Charity and very Virtuous.
Get involved with the people who need help and work to make a direct difference in their life. Show Charity to the people around you, the people who you meet in real life. Volunteer. Help out. Listen to someone who needs to talk. Visit those who are lonely. Do what you can! That’s really what it comes down to—we need to do what we can.
Let’s do whatever we can. Let’s keep our eyes peeled and pray to the LORD so we don’t miss any chances to be of real service to people. It doesn’t matter how small an act of Charity we do, it’s the intention that matters. Any sacrifice of our time, money, labor, or emotional energy, etc., that is motivated by love for our neighbor is a sacrifice God is pleased with.
So rejoice! We don’t need lots of money to practice the Virtue of Charity! We have what it takes to show Charitable love to our neighbor right now, in God’s honor. Our choices are endless. So let’s be Charitable!
Endless Ways to Love Our Neighbor
The Virtue of Charity is so much more than donating money. It really comes down to loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. We do this because like us, our neighbor was also created in the image of God. It’s only right that we show others the same generosity and love that God has shown us! This is the Virtue of Charity.
There are so many ways we can practice the Virtue of Charity. Besides money, we can help people out. Help people in trouble. Visit the lonely. Listen to people who need someone to talk to. Share their burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). There is so much we can do. We can sacrifice our time, money, energy, labor, emotional energy, and more. Whatever we sacrifice, if our sacrifice is motivated by love for our neighbor, to honor God, then our sacrifice is good. Then our sacrifice is the Virtue of Charity. It’s our intention that matters.
So let’s be careful, and make sure that our intentions are in the right place. If we do Charity so we can post it to social media, getting likes and comments, then that isn’t true Charity. Then our motivation isn’t love for our neighbor, it’s getting likes on social media. Once we get those likes, then we’ve already received our reward here on earth. Our Father in Heaven won’t reward us, in that case, because we’ve already received our reward, already gotten what we wanted. We should do our charity in secret, so no one but God sees it—then God will reward us in Heaven (Matthew 6:2-4).
We need to make sure we have the right intentions—love for God and our neighbor, and that’s it. Good things done for the wrong reasons aren’t good, to God. It’s possible (and quite easy) for our Charity to get corrupted. If we aren’t doing it out of love, and expect some reward, then we aren’t doing true Charity. Be careful! It’s easy to fall into this trap. See Fake Kindness, Real Sin for more.
We need to be motivated by love and nothing else. But as long as we get that right, there’s no end to the possibilities we have for performing the Virtue of Charity. Rejoice! We don’t need to be rich to be Charitable! The sacrifice that pleases the LORD is a grateful and loving heart. If we sacrifice what we can and do it out of love, then we honor God.
So let’s get creative! The possibilities for honoring God by loving our neighbor are endless. What a blessing!
The Virtue for next time is Piety. Stay tuned for that and Subscribe to my FREE weekly newsletter with the link below so you’ll never miss a post!!
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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