If you were asked to define a Christian what would you say? You’d probably start that definition as one who believes in Christ but, is that all there is to being a Christian? The above definition raises even more questions like, “What does it mean to believe?,” “Who is Christ?,” and “How do you know when you believe?”
I like to remind people that the words faith and belief are also verbs. They are action words. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17)
Part of what defines a Christian is charity done from faith. If your faith is not compelling you to charity, then your faith is but a flicker of what it should be. Saying you believe is easy but faith that leads to charity takes effort. The effort to know God through His Word, the effort to communicate with God through thought, word and prayer, and the effort to be His servants to a world condemned by sin.
Paul explained it this way in Acts 20:35, “In all things I have shown you that by working heard in this way (charity) we must help the weak and remember the Words of the Lord Jesus, how he Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Charity is a by-product of faith. A charitable heart allows God to reach the hurting, the addicted, the hungry and the homeless through the hands and feet of those who believe in something much greater than this world has to offer.
And proper charity comes with a willing heart. In Luke 21, Jesus saw the rich putting in large donations in the temple and then He saw a widow give all she had in two small copper coins. He went on to teach that she was the one who gave the greater gift because she put her full faith in her God. Charity for the sake of charity is one thing. Charity out of a heart that wants to give through faith in Christ is another.
God created us to have hearts of charity. His every intention was to create people who thought of others before themselves because they knew that God would always provide even more than they truly needed. But then sin and selfishness came through disobedience and infected the world with unrighteousness. Now others suffer through addiction, mental illness, poverty and persecution, and our first reaction is too often, avoidance.
In God’s word we hear His holy advice:
Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay Him for his deed.”
2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
These are but a few of the many times God has pleaded with us in His Word to be a part of the solution. God longs for hearts of charity who are willing to make a kingdom difference by their actions. He desires of His children to put their belief to good use by having a servant heart towards others.
We look around so many places that have been touched by anger, strife and unrighteousness and it brings tears to our eyes. Love and charity are what the world needs to address our many problems. Understanding and patience can only come about if we are willing to listen and act upon what we have learned.
So, let your faith in God grow into something that brings about something beautiful for others. Practice charity because it’s the right thing to do under God. Think of others as fellow children of the Lord and provide a path of direction toward salvation for them. We all have it in us, even if at the present it is but a flicker. Find your heart of charity so that others my see Christ in you. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, help us to gain hearts of charity more intent on serving others than ourselves. Cause our love for you to grow so that our actions find contentment in being your hands, your feet and your mouthpieces to the world.. Amen.