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by Ira Lanes
June 04, 2009
Charity is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands. - Joseph Addison

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger by it. - Francis Bacon

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. - l Corinthian 13:4

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. - l Corinthian 13:2

From the Bible to great men of literature and science, charity as a theme and way of life has been espoused for ages.

Charity is defined as benevolent good will or love toward humanity or generosity and helpfulness especially towards the needy and suffering. With this in mind, many charitable organizations have been set up to help alleviate the plight of the poor, the hungry, the ailing, the frail, the aged and many more.

True charity comes from the heart, from a genuine desire to share good fortune and love with fellowmen. However, most people think that charity requires prodigious amounts of money to make a difference.

This is not entirely true. It is true that a lot of money is necessary to further education of children in poor countries. It is true that significant amounts of money are needed to help fight disease and poverty. But the war against these and more are kept on by people who give not only money but also their time, effort and energy. There are few people in this world who can afford to give staggering amounts of money to fund a charity. Most of the givers can only afford to give so much. Yet, it is these people, who make sure that the charities are kept alive. Small donations can accumulate and become significant when put together.

You don't need money to make a difference in a person's life. A kind gesture, a soft word can be enough to make a difference in a person's life. You don't need to spend cold, hard cash to be able to touch a person and change his or her life.

Often, people mistake a sense of obligation for charity. True charity is driven by the heart and not by a sense of duty or obligation. If you perform acts of charity, you perform these as shown by your heart. Those are true and selfless acts of charity.

And true charity seeks no recognition. It seeks neither fame nor fortune. True charity is content to stay in the shadows and do what must be done with neither desire nor need for fanfare.

This is reminiscent of Henry van Dyke's short story, The Mansion, where the rich man expects his heavenly reward to be lavish and finds himself hugely disappointed.

He wondered about the sparseness of his dwelling, saying that he had devoted much effort to charitable giving while on earth.

The man was struck when he was asked to look back and think of what he got in return for all his acts of charity while he was on earth. He thought about it and came to a sad realization. Then he understood.

Every charitable act is a stepping stone toward heaven. - Henry Ward Beecher

As the purse is emptied the heart is filled. - Victor Hugo

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