In the Bible, much like what we would believe today, charity is equated with giving. To be charitable, literally, would mean to be a giver. In the context of 2 Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul is talking about money; however, charity is never limited to money within the Bible. Regardless, the Bible does tell us to bless others as much as we can. Yet, it must be done cheerfully, otherwise it is meaningless. We should never feel obligated to be charitable—we should want to be! After all, Jesus was incredibly charitable to us.
Proverbs 19:17 “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.”
Charity involves helping those who need it. Often times, it will be through giving tithes to a church or through handing someone in need some money. But, there are other ways to be charitable to the less fortunate, too. If we know someone in need, we can always buy the groceries, give some type of gift card, or pay for a bill that we know is coming up.
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”
In order to be charitable, it is also important to be hospitable. The two often go hand-in-hand. Hospitality means we are willing to open up our homes and lives to those that need it. It doesn’t mean that we have to allow strangers to sleep in our homes, but it does mean we are to be friendly, compassionate, and kind to anybody around us—including strangers!
Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
This is a perfect definition of charity found in the Bible. Again, it doesn’t necessarily mean money has to be given (although that’s certainly included). The fact is, it’s far greater than just handing out money or tithing—it goes deep into our hearts. If we are a charitable person, we will start caring for other people more than we care for ourselves. We will start wanting to listen to other people’s troubles more than we like to speak about our own. In other words, to be charitable according to the Bible is to be a sacrificial giver of every part of our life, from our money to our time.