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What Is Christian Love (Charity) According to the Bible?

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What Is Charity?



The apostle Paul defines charity, which is Christian love, according to God. He teaches, "Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not. Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own , is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

This certainly is not the dictionary definition of charity, more commonly called Christian love. Application of the dictionary definition of a word when reading and studying the Bible has caused much misunderstanding and confusion. Some parts of the definition of charity are more easily understood than others and some parts also agree with the dictionary definition of love. There are, however, some elements of Christian love mentioned by the apostle Paul that most people would not associate with the meaning of charity.

The Individual Elements of Christian Love



Again, scripture says that charity does not vaunt itself, is not puffed up, does not seek her own, and does not envy. This part of the definition of Christian love is almost always overlooked, dismissed, or never known. When a believer in Christ truly considers the definition of charity according to the word of God, the signs of very imperfect Christian love become evident. Mind sets lead to a type of behavior that is a reflection of the thoughts and beliefs of an individual.

For example, harboring jealousy against someone can lead to anything from the display of rude behavior to pre-meditated murder, depending on the intensity of the envy. Sadly, most Christians do not associate the harboring of envy with a lack of charity. Nevertheless, true Christian love, as the scripture says, "envieth not." Where there is envy, there is imperfection or a total lack of Christian love. Unfortunately, few Christians also fail to associate pride, vanity, and an insatiable desire to be held in high esteem by others with the signs of imperfect charity or a complete lack of Christian love. This does not change the truth, however, that true charity, "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, and seeketh not her own."

How man believers, including leaders in and of Christian churches seek their own glory, seek to be praised by man, and are puffed up with pride? How many aspire to be ordained to be held in high esteem rather than to go through the doors that ordination opens to preach the gospel of Jesus? How many Christians pay large sums of money to hold a useless license to be a pastor, deacon, minister, missionary, evangelist, or elder in name only? These motivations are sure signs of imperfect charity or of a total lack of charity, according to the word of God. Spiritual perfection, in the eyes of the Lord, is not defined as the complete omission of sin in one's life. It is being perfect in Christian love--first, in one's love toward the Lord, and second, in love towards one's neighbor. Charity according to the Bible is not the same as charity according to the world.

"...Put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." (Colossians 3:14).

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).


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