I was reading The Book of Joy this morning, and this statement struck me:
“Charity is prescribed by almost every religious tradition. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, called zakat. In Judaism, it is called tsedakah, which literally means “justice.” In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is called dana. And in Christianity, it is charity.”
Speaking from the Christian point of view, obviously this is correct. But it struck me that there’s another level that exists, mostly related to the word from which “charity” is derived.
“Charity” comes from the Greek word charis, which means “grace” (which in turn is mostly translated as “unmerited favor”)
To be charitable to someone is to extend grace to them.
As I’m constantly trying to remind people, grace is not something that simply gets us into heaven: It is the constant and consistent attitude that God adopts towards us.
It goes way past forgiveness, and with the concept of “charity,” it brings us into the equation, where we are able to (well really we are called to) imitate God by extending charity—grace—to those around us.