Do you remember the feeling you had when someone extended a gift of selfless love? I can’t effectively describe the sensation other than to suggest for me it permeates my being. We have cats in our family, and perhaps the “purr” a cat engages in while being petted is one way to describe an expression of feeling love. I get a warm feeling, and this warmth puts me in a mental place of deep gratitude. While in this mood I feel as though I will do anything for that individual. You can imagine yourself “melting” as expressions or evidences of selflessness are uttered, given, or shared.
I remember being in a setting where I was taught the value of being charitable. This was while I was living in Australia several years ago, yet the lesson remains. The teacher used as an example the letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians. In Paul’s letter he stated you can have many things, but if you don’t have charity, you have nothing. He suggested that charity endures, has no envy, has no self-interest, believes, hopes, and rejoices. Paul described charity as never-failing and that it is the greatest of all gifts. I reflect on that time with this teacher as one where I became aware of this life principle.
So what is charity? The word charity is used as and is interchangeable with the word love. Love is defined as an emotion showing attachment and affection. We can love something tangible, but this is not the love I am wishing to address here. Love for our purpose is caring for others, and it is caring for others over self. Charity as defined in Christian theology is perfect and unlimited love, and it is said to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit.
If charity is a desired outcome of our human existence, we need to understand and appreciate this gift. To learn charity, I believe one must be charitable. Let’s do some experimenting, beginning with some simple tests. The next time you approach an individual, be the first to offer a smile. Acknowledging them changes their attitude immediately. If you both have the time, ask them very sincerely how they are and if there is anything you can do to help. This opens the door for you, perhaps displacing thinking of yourself with seeing what you can do for them. You will be amazed at how quickly your skill set will open doors for this individual. This simple act by itself will change your life, yet there is more.
Try paying for someone’s coffee behind you in line and not letting them know. Watch from a distance and see how it changes their day. Let someone into your lane on the road, open the door ahead of someone, thank a server for their service, or help carry objects for someone with a heavy load. There are many simple ways to test giving of yourself. Try some of your own ways. You will begin to notice that the people to whom you have reached out will begin to express gratitude. It is as obvious as the emotion of feeling the cat’s purr.
What you will feel with this experiment is that showing charity towards others automatically reflects their love back to you. You know precisely what makes your day when others express their love toward you; consequently, you learn and give back. You learn not only how to make another’s load a little lighter or their day a little brighter, but you will also receive very similar treatment from others. When you are down and need some encouragement, it will be there for you. The attitude you carry of a willingness to see the world through the eyes of those whom you meet will be your greatest gift.
Now following this simple lesson of how expressive charity is, try stepping it up a little. Maybe our natural instinct is to watch out for ourselves, who knows? In making decisions, don’t we often think of the outcomes in our lives in these evaluations? The best relationships we have are ones where the participants in the relationship have the ability to remove themselves from decisions, thinking of everyone affected by the outcome, not just self. Now try thinking of others over self in decision-making. Selflessness in relationships allows for a closeness many will never experience. Haven’t you witnessed with self-sacrificing partners, friends, or associates in your relationships that their influence on our association proves to be a mirror which reflects back on them? We will do anything to give back with this type of interaction. These relationships prove to be more than if they had made a selfish decision. To some this may seem counter intuitive, but it is not; try it and watch, sense, feel, purr, and you will amaze yourself. Your experience in every relationship will be one of growth and development. The rapport you will enjoy will be unmatched by any other experience.
Now with your knowledge of how simple acts in human interaction reflect back on you and how selfless decisions make for better relationships, deliver with your ability, showing charity with everyone you interact with. Think of others before yourself; you will be blown away at how rich your life will become. Your loving spirit will be felt without any verbal communication. By your example of charity, others will naturally follow.
If charity is pure love and a culmination of human experience, why live without it? Why wait to learn how to abide by its richness? This simple life principle, along with many others, comes to us over time and through experience, yet there is no need to wait. If you want to better yourself, better your fellow being. If you want to feel the richness and warmth of unfailing love, give it. If you want to make a difference and leave your world a better place, let others know how important they are as you put their needs above yours. We know what it is we enjoy; we are not that different. Show charity towards your fellow beings and live a life many will only dream of.