And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. from the 13th verse of the 13th chapter of I Corinthians.
It is strange, how these two words mean essentially the same thing, yet come across so entirely different. Of course it is because of past use of them, but it is rather sad. Charity has been so carelessly used as a word to describe giving to those poor who have let down their pride enough to accept whatever those better off will give. This comes from the use of the word “charitable organizations” to describe groups like the Salvation Army and others whose mission it is to see that those hardest hit in economic crunches have at least the bare necessities to survive, and during the holidays, a bit of nog and some turkey with which to share the hols with those still working. It is not a bad thing, in fact I very much see the need for this, from both sides of the table.
But, I want to show you that charity, put forth as above, may just be the “working” part of a much larger concept. There is compassion in the heart of anyone who looks on the plight of another, even if that “other” is quite wealthy and needs nophysical handouts, and lends them a shoulder to lean on, or a hanky to cry into. These are acts of compassion that would seldom be seen as “charity”. Yet, on a much broader scale, they are one and the same, for they are attempts by one human to comfort and meet the needs of another.
It is this very caring for each other that Y’shua was addressing when he spoke of loving one another. He wasn’t speaking of loving only the members of one’s own congregation, not even only of one’s own denomination or faith. He was addressing loving all other humans with this same, deep level of caring. He was grounded in a faith that forbids evangelization. Yes, he was grounded in Judaism. That was his parent faith, this is shown by so many things that Christians regard as being solely Christian in origin. The “Our Father” was a prayer spoken at Kadesh, the I Am was and is the here and now presence of the most Holy of Holies. There a many mitzvot that do not require one to “feel” charitable to do the compassionate thing toward both the animals and strangers of a human nature.
Compassion then, on all levels, is the very concept that one must care for the plight of all life within one’s circle of influence. This is required by Y’shua of those who would claim to follow him (living by the law of love would have you living by all the mitzvot that have to do with your treatment of others), and by Moses, as he wrote down the concepts shown him by the Holy Spirit. Other faiths, such as Buddhism are similar in their requirement of compassion as a way of life for all who follow that path. I have come to believe that all paths that teach compassion as a core of the faith, and brought to us from the different regions of the world via the Holy Spirit, each group of believers then personalizing the teachings to their way of life, are paths to God.