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The Quality of Charity

The Quality of Charity

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But the greatest of these is charity. — 1 Cor. 13: 13.

But the greatest of these is charity. — 1 Cor. 13: 13.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Mar 10, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE QUALITY OF CHARITY BY GEORGE HODGES But the greatest of these is charity. — 1 Cor. 13: 13. The charity which is at the heart of all right ministration to the poor, St. Paul considers in the half of a sentence : " Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." The words are of such everlasting importance that they have given philanthropy a new name from that day to this. The fact that philanthropy has not always lived up to this good name has brought the name itself into some disrepute. People resent being made the recipients of "charity." It suggests condescension and social distance, and that kind of pity which irritates rather than comforts. The association or the organization of the charities of a community, a wise and beneficial, even an indispensable, arrangement, suggests a way of being broth-erly by proxy or by machinery, a substitution of science for friendship, and of investigation for fraternity.
That is, between the common notion of charity and the sense in which St. Paul used the word, there is an antagonistic difference. 132 THE QUALITY OF CHARITY 133 It is plain that we need to fill our charities with the spirit of charity. All this great sub- ject, however, St. Paul touches in but half a sentence. The charity which he is exalting in this splendid hymn is only incidentally that which is manifested in the dispensing of alms. A similar place is given in this high dis-course to the charity which is at the heart of all right self-sacrifice. It is considered in the other half of the same sentence, "Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." This is the way in which all the penances of Lent are to be sanctified. They may be of no value what-soever. They may be fulfilled with all dili-
gence, with the observance of every scruple ; people may attend church every day in Lent, and fast six times in the week, and deny them-selves the joys of life ; and yet it may all profit them nothing. It is very likely, by reason of this warning, that the chapter on charity was chosen to be read, as we have read it to-day, upon the threshold of Lent. It calls our attention to the fact that the helpfulness of Lent de-pends wholly upon the spirit in which it is kept. The outward act, though it be one of the extremest self-denial and devotion, is in-terpreted to God by the motive which is be-134 THE YEAR OF GRACE hind it. To take the instance which is used by St. Paul, people have actually suffered mar-tyrdom. They have been burned at the stake, and yet have been disapproved by God. All their pain has profited them nothing.

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