A little boy, about 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted,
peering through the window, and shivering with cold.
A lady approached the young boy and said, "My, but you're in such deep thought staring in that
"I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the boy's reply.
The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs
of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel.
He quickly brought them to her.
She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down,
washed his little feet, and dried them with the towel.
By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she
purchased him a pair of shoes.
She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and
said, "No doubt, you will be more comfortable now."
As she turned to go, the astonished kid caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face,
with tears in his eyes, asked her...
"Are you God's wife?"
What is charity? We think of charity as giving to people in need but the word charity has several
different meanings. It means: Helping the poor; almsgiving; Institution, organization or fund;
virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward one's neighbors as objects of
God's love. The last meaning here is the meaning Paul was conveying in 1 Corinthians 13
when he used the word charity nine times.
I Corinthians 13 "1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
In I Corinthians 13 Paul wrote the characteristics of love. In the very first verses he said
if he spoke as an angel yet he didn't have love he would just sound like a tinkling cymbal, if
he had enough faith to move mountains but didn't have charity he was nothing and even if he gave
everything he had to feed the poor but didn't have love it would profit him nothing.
Unlike worldly love, Godly love is directed outward toward others instead of inward toward ourselves.
It is long suffering, kind, it doesn't envy, doesn't brag, is not pompous, does not behave improperly,
is not selfish, is not easily made angry and doesn't dwell on evil thoughts. Love doesn't rejoice
in wickedness but, rather, rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things and endures all things. It does all this and expects nothing in return! Even when
everything else fails charity (or love) will never fail!
We only know in part now. Paul is offering us a glimpse into eternity. In eternity we will be
made perfect, we will be complete. For now I see through a glass darkly but then ...the then being
when we reach eternity, perfection, we shall know even as we are known. God has given us many
gifts but the greatest gift of all is the gift of love! And the wonderful thing is that
everyone can have this great gift. Not everyone is blessed with the gift of teaching or the
gift of preaching and the gift of music and singing is only given to a few but every one of God's
children can have the gift of love but, sadly, not all of us use it!
Mark 12:28-31 "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had
answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the
commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely
this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
In Mark 12:28 one of the scribes came to Jesus and asked Him which was the first commandment of
all. Jesus told him the first and most important commandment was love or we could use one of the
interpretations of charity here since we are using love and charity interchangeably. Jesus actually
gave the scribe two commandments. One is taken from Deuteronomy 6:5: "And thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
The other is taken from Leviticus 19:18: "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against
the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord." So
love, then, is the most important thing in the Christian life. Love for God first, and then
love for others!
Matthew 10:37 "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."
Matthew 6:24 "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
As a parent it's hard to imagine loving anyone more than you do that tiny, helpless infant you
hold in your arms for the first time. But, if you are a child of God, you must love Him more
than any thing or any one and He must come first. If you have to make a choice between serving
Him or pleasing someone in your family, which is it going to be? If your choice is between serving God or
making more money, which would it be? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 - You can't serve
God and mammon (or money).
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life."
John 15:9-12 "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments,
ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken
unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another,
as I have loved you."
God loved us so much that He gave us His only Son to die a cruel death so we might live. Jesus
loved us so much He was willing to die for us! All He asks in return is that we love Him
as much as He loves us and that we put Him first and then that we love one another as He has
loved us. And if we love one another it will make us have the giving kind of
charity the woman in the story above had when she bought the little boy the new shoes and
THINK ABOUT IT!
ARE YOU USING YOUR GIFT?
1 Peter 4:8 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."
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