The Seven Living Virtues*: Charity

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. ― Mother Teresa

 

It’s one thing to write a check to get the tax deduction, but it’s another to write a check with love. Charity is giving with love; it’s giving because we feel the compassion to do so.

Most (I’d say “all,” but I’m not a theologian and could easily miss an exception) faiths provide for acts of charity to those less fortunate. Jewish tradition has tzedakah, Christianity provides for stewardship, Hinduism has dana, Muslims have sedaqah, and Buddhism has alms.

Giving to those less fortunate doesn’t necessarily mean giving money. It can mean helping someone cross the street, buying an extra sandwich for the homeless person outside the restaurant, or helping someone learn to read.

The roots of charity trace back to the earliest days of civilation, when humans cooperated toward the common goal of survival. Taking care of and protecting every member of the clan was a given part of the harmony of society.

Today, charitable institutions abound, and the government itself also provides services for those in need. Individuals, though, ultimately make up those institutions and the government, and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of what we can do, even in a small way, to help others.

Resources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/charity

http://www.stjohncc.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/virtue-of-charity.pdf

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a7.htm

* The seven living virtues are the positive version of seven deadly sins. This entry is part of a seven-part series:

  1. Fortitude
  2. Honor
  3. Compassion
  4. Charity
  5. Acceptance
  6. Forgiveness
  7. Humility

The idea is to learn to recognize and cultivate these traits in yourself, and to recognize and appreciate others who have them, with the intention of being happier and more fulfilled while on the path to accomplishing your goals.

 

 


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