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. (1 Corinthians 13)
Strong language. Of all these supernatural gifts and abilities available to the natural man none of them gain the person anything if he hasn’t charity. But what is charity? Most people translate it to mean love or alms giving. Although these certainly are a part of true charity it doesn’t cover the full width and depth of the concept.
Charity comes from the Greek word “Agape”. All throughout the Bible transcribers have chosen to flip between love and charity for the word agape depending on the circumstance. For example when Jesus said, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” the word love is agape.
Charity covers more than love. In fact charity is probably the single best description of the Christian religion. True charity is an undying and unyielding love for God that is demonstrated and made manifest in our dealings with other people.
Vines expository dictionary defines Charity this way. “Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandment.
Self-will, that is, self-pleasing, is the negation of love to God.
“Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered.
Love seeks the welfare of all, and works no ill to any, love seeks opportunity to do good to ‘all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.” (Vines)
Notice how love or charity does not have to have an emotional attachment or draw to someone to help them. Neither does the giver of charity particularly have to like what they are doing. Charity seeks the welfare and well-being of the other person.
Christian charity also is much more than feeding, clothing, housing or lending financial aid to the poor, unfortunate and destitute. Christian charity affects all social classes and helps in a physical sense, emotional, psychological and of course spiritually as well.
Simply put, Christian charity edifies and uplifts everyone whether it is through words, speech, deeds or actions. Everyone is a child of God so everyone is included in Christian charity.
The first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 are making it clear what the true superpower is and what is most desired of each and every one of us. We are to show our infinite love of God by showing Christian good will to all of mankind. There is no inclusion or exclusion to this service. As children of God we are to worship Him through the work and effort we express to others.
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)