I love the ringing of the Salvation Army bells! It is one of the sure signs of Christmas. I also love the opportunity I have each year to go be a bell ringer, it’s a holiday highlight every year!
The only person that loves it more than me is my daughter. The smile and excitement on her face when she drops coins into the kettle is the highlight of every holiday shopping trip.
I save up quarters all year for this.
But…is dropping a few quarters into the bucket at Christmas the full extent of charity?
And more importantly, if it brings such joy, why would I limit myself to that and not create habits of charity that I can use all year round?
Better understanding charity.
Paul gives us one of the best definitions we have of charity in his letter to the Corinthians. His definition of charity (the CEB version uses the word “love”):
Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant,
it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints,
it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth.
Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Two important lessons about charity from this definition.
#1: Charity isn’t just giving.
In today’s use of the word, we often think of charity as giving to a charity. What is strange is that the act of financial giving doesn’t even make it into Paul’s definition.
When we check the box of charity because we have given financially, we miss the opportunity to grow our character as a person of true charity.
#2: Charity is about doing.
The definition above is a call to action. It isn’t about feeling charity in your heart and leaving it there, it is about acting in a way that changes our hearts and minds.
The challenge with charity is:
You have to do it before you feel it.
You have to do it and feel it before you become it.
Charity is something you become.
That doesn’t happen through giving money away. That comes from the daily decisions to act in a way that is patient, kind, not jealous, rude, or irritable, consistently putting up with things and choosing to never fail to try to act that way.
You have to do it day after day, even and especially when you don’t feel like it.
As you do, you become different.
It isn’t about doing more. Charity isn’t on your to do list that you can check off.
It is about choosing to do better. That causes you to feel better and grow until you become charitable.
Greg Daily shows charity in action.
Greg Dailey showed us all the power of how this works. Greg has a newspaper delivery route in New Jersey.
Typically, he drives by, throws the paper, and moves on to the next house.
Then something changed and his route was never the same.
He got a not from one of his customers asking him to deliver the paper closer to the front door because she has a hard time walking down the driveway to get it.
Dailey did that and more!
Realizing that if walking down the driveway was difficult, getting groceries and other necessities might be difficult, too.
This is where charity comes in! It’s not about giving money; it’s about living out love.
Dailey decided to include a note letting his customers know that if they need any help with getting groceries that he would be willing to get and deliver their groceries for them free of charge!
Now he deliveries groceries to nearly 100 senior citizens, both on his route and not.
In one article written about Greg, one of these senior citizens called him, “the closest thing to God.”
And so, he keeps going. Day after day. In a show of true charity. It isn’t about doing more, it’s about doing better. It isn’t about giving money, it’s about showing love.
We can all do the same thing.
The question you can ask yourself today is, “What would I do if I was being fully charitable?”
That’s what Greg did. Looked at a situation and decided to act in the most charitable way possible. In a way that is kind and doesn’t fail.
Facing a tough situation? Act with charity. Someone disrespectful? Act with charity. Someone need help? Act with charity. What if that person has been a bit of a jerk? Act with charity.
Act that way and you will feel that way. Feel that way and eventually you will become it. You will become like Greg. Start today. Be like Greg.