How are you? I was hoping to write a post about biblical ways of marriage and love between spouses today. However, I decided that there is so much to consider and talk about with a post like that, so I chose a more general form of love today. That love is “charity”.
A Few General Thoughts about the Definition of “Charity”:
I am sure there are many definitions of the word charity. We may each have our own definition. Our definition may even change, as we grow older and mature in faith and understanding.
I can remember reading the word “charity” in the Bible and automatically thinking of the noun “charity, as in an organization that helps the poor. So, maybe I thought of the word “charity” as in “a kind-hearted feeling for those in need”. I don’t remember for sure.
Now, I think of “charity” as being a “Christianly love for all” and something that is to be done always. It is a love we are called to have for others, because God calls us to love others. They don’t have to be poor. They don’t have to be rich. They don’t have to be kind. They don’t have to be friends or friendly. We are just called to love others.
What is your definition for the word “charity” as mentioned in 1 Peter 4:8? I would be interested in hearing thoughtful considerations by other Christians.
If you are uncertain of a definition, you might want to research it. A Bible concordance may be helpful for you. Here is a page that explains and defines “charity”.
What Reason Does Peter Give for Having “Charity” for Others?:
In 1 Peter 4:8, the reason Peter gives us to have charity for others is “…for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (KJV) So, what does this mean? When I first read this, I thought about how we tend to “overlook” or more easily forgive minor misgivings from our loved ones, because of our love for them. We might think or say something like, “Oh yes, he (or she) might have done something wrong, but I can’t stay mad. I love him (or her).” The more endearing the person may act towards us, the more difficult it is to stay upset with that person.
Was Peter’s meaning this practical? Was he talking about the practicalities of human behavior? Is that what God means? Is God calling us to love one another in 1 Peter 4:8, because it will make it easier to forgive one another when our human behavior slips into sin?
I am not sure. However, in the practical sense, I do think Peter wanted to stress to the early Christians that they should stick together, encourage each other, and help build the kingdom of God. I think he wanted to stress the need to be of one mind in God and guard against being divided.
When reading and studying God’s Word, it is often important to consider the context of the statement before taking it to heart. For example, when reading 1 Peter 4:8, I am kind of surprised to read that Peter’s instructions was to “have fervent charity among yourselves” above all instead of loving God above all or something like that.
Let’s dive a little deeper and look at 1 Peter 4:7 for some context. In that verse Peter notes that “the end of all things are at hand”. So, I am thinking that Peter is probably expecting Jesus to come back and the world to end soon. He wants to do what he can to comfort the newest Christians and to encourage them to love each other and to stick together. He is probably warning them that things will get difficult, that there may be persecution from the non-Christian community. He may be saying that they should make sure they have their “ducks in a row”, so that when the end comes, they will be with God. He wants them to remember that “together we stand and divided we fall”, so sticking together and encouraging each other is important.
Maybe Peter figured that if he said to “love God above all”, the new Christians might not understand the message that he was giving them about sticking together and encouraging each other. Maybe Peter was remember back and relaying the message that Jesus gave in verses such as Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, and John 15:12 that we are called to love one another. Maybe Peter knew that we couldn’t dislike each other and love God at the same time (as mentioned in 1 John 4:20). Maybe Peter wasn’t sure if the new Christians would understand that, so he just said to love each other.
I believe that we get more out of God’s Word and His message, when we look at things in context and also try to put ourselves in the shoes of the speaker or listener back in biblical times.
Although, nothing is better in gaining knowledge about God’s Word then to read it and then pray to ask God for knowledge. So, let’s pray.
Thank you for your love and your Word. Your Word is a living and life giving Word. However, at times it can be difficult for us to understand and to take out of context. Help us to turn to you in prayer, especially if we have the least little doubt about what you are telling us through your Word. Help us also to love each other and to encourage each other in your Word. Help us also to understand that we don’t love you, if we don’t love others. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read these similar posts:
*How Do You Show Jesus You Love Him?
*Do You Reflect the Love of God?
*Do You Practice Pure Religion?
*Why are We Called to Love Our Enemies?
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This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.