Charity can be equated to agape’ love. This kind of love is aid and comfort given to someone without qualification. Churches often fall short of this because as individuals they expect to receive appreciation. But that would be qualifying the nature of the recipient. I volunteered with a man in our church who never accepted a “thanks”, but instead would direct the recipient to thank God. As a Christian it should be our attitude to please God and to serve others as Jesus would.
(Colossians 3:11-12 WEB) 11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. 12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
In describing the church, he identifies the demographics of the Roman Empire. Many of our churches cater to only certain groups. The church has been called the most segregated hour in America. Even so, the forces of division, often fueled by gossip, create a lot of divisions within the body of the church. And this is even while we’re all filled with the same Holy Spirit.
Given all this, Paul outlines the virtues needed to overcome the divisions in the church. This list does not contain all of the virtues named as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. But they are the key virtues that enable “volunteers” who don’t work closely with one another to still function in unity. I would suggest also that these same virtues can work with para-church organizations that combine members from different churches and denominations.
(Colossians 3:13-14 WEB) 13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man hath a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye. 14And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
These verses get into the imperfections of Christians and how to handle divisions that arise. Tolerance along with listening gives us the space to appreciate another point of view and to not take ourselves too seriously. Forgiveness and asking for forgiveness are how we achieve the close ties that truly bring us together. This is the nature of true charity; all the focus is on those in need and their well-being. Self takes a back seat.
(Colossians 3:15-17 WEB) 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The church should be the safest environment a Christian experiences. It should be the model for the family and the source of strength for ministry. This environment needs to begin with gratitude and thankfulness. Gratitude all belongs to Jesus Christ who built the church with His own blood. Thankfulness starts with a sincere effort to learn and to participate in the work of the church. And in humility seeking to learn first and offer constructive criticism later.
Members of the church should be ministering to one another. Notice that the word “admonish” is also included in verse 16. Scripture points this out in:
(Proverbs 27:6 KJV) Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful.
Teaching one another is equally a virtue that brings the church together. We can learn so much from others – no matter how much we know ourselves.
Worship is what brings us together as our eyes, ears, and heart are focused on the One that deserves our highest praise. This is where our unity begins. And our unity should be our testimony to our love for Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit.
This is all so much more than just “love”. All of this should ground our understanding of what true charity is.
To see all the posts on Colossians select the tag Colossians.
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