KJV: 1 Cor 13:13, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
The word translated as ‘charity’ is actually the Greek word agape. Agape is the complete, total, universal and unselfish kind of love that seeks to give the very best of themselves for the benefit and on behalf of others- not only for our friends, neighbours, or the people seen as ‘worthy of our help’, but also for those individuals seen as unworthy, unfriendly, or even those who are downright hostile or who act as our enemy.
Acts of charity by themselves (e.g: throwing some coins in a collector’s bucket, or donating goods to the Salvos/St Vinnies), are only a small part and expression of the greater depth of agape love. The acts themselves are not the sum total of agape love in action, but at the same time, they can be an expression of it – an act of charity, when motivated by the selfless, generous, sacrificial love that seeks the best for another is performed, even the smallest act of charity becomes agape love in action. An example of this in the Bible is in Mark 12:41-44 about the widow’s mite where she gave all she had.
When these tasks are done from a heart overflowing with agape love, every day becomes an opportunity to give abundantly, to bless beyond measure, or to serve another wholeheartedly. Such an act is seen in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” What an act of charity to lift fallen and lost humanity back to its godliness!