How Many Times Is Charity Mentioned in the Bible

By Paul King •  Updated: 09/26/23 •  16 min read

Charity, a concept integral to religious teachings, holds significant prominence in the Bible. According to the biblical texts, the term ‘charity’ appears frequently, underscoring its significance in moral and ethical conduct. Let us dive into the occurrences of charity in the Bible and explore its definition, instances in the Old and New Testaments, as well as its importance in Christian teachings.

One of the most well-known verses that highlights the importance of charity is found in 1 Corinthians 13:13, which states, ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and charity. But the greatest of these is charity.’ This verse emphasizes that charity, also referred to as love, is the most significant virtue among the three.

In the Old Testament, the concept of charity is seen in the book of Proverbs 19:17, which states, ‘Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.’ This verse teaches us that acts of charity towards the less fortunate are not only commendable but also bring blessings from God.

The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 further illustrates the importance of charity. In this parable, a man is beaten and left half-dead on the roadside. While a priest and a Levite pass by without helping, a Samaritan, known to be despised by the Jews, shows compassion and takes care of the injured man. Jesus concludes the story by saying, ‘Go and do likewise’ (Luke 10:37), urging his followers to show love and charity to others, regardless of their background or social status.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul emphasizes the role of charity in his letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 16:14, he advises, ‘Let all that you do be done in love.’ This verse reminds us that charity should be the driving force behind all our actions and interactions with others.

Additionally, the book of James emphasizes the importance of combining faith and charity. James 2:14-17 states, ‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ This passage highlights that true faith is demonstrated through charitable actions towards those in need.

Through these biblical narratives and teachings, we can understand that charity is not simply an act of giving or generosity. It encompasses love, compassion, and selflessness towards others, particularly those who are suffering or in need. As Christians, we are called to embody charity in our lives and strive to make a positive impact on the world around us.

Key Takeaways

The Definition of Charity in the Bible

The definition of charity in the Bible is a concept that is deeply rooted in the teachings and principles of love and compassion. In the book of 1 Corinthians, it states, ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:13). This verse emphasizes the importance of love as the foundation of charity.

Charity in the Bible goes beyond mere acts of giving, as it encompasses a genuine concern for the well-being of others. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). This commandment highlights the selflessness and care that should be at the core of our charitable actions.

One powerful story that exemplifies the biblical concept of charity is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In this story, a man is beaten and left on the side of the road, ignored by a priest and a Levite. However, a Samaritan, who was considered an outsider and despised by the Jews, stops to help the wounded man. The Samaritan tends to his wounds, takes him to an inn, and pays for his care. This story teaches us that charity involves going out of our way to help those in need, regardless of their social status or background.

Throughout the Old Testament, we also find numerous examples of individuals who selflessly extended help and support to those in need. One such example is found in the book of Ruth. When Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi were left widowed and destitute, Boaz, a wealthy landowner, showed great generosity and kindness towards them. He allowed Ruth to glean in his fields and eventually redeemed her, providing for her and Naomi’s well-being. This story demonstrates how charity involves not only giving material support but also extending a helping hand to those who are vulnerable and in need.

Instances of Charity in the Old Testament

Instances of acts of benevolence can be found throughout the Old Testament, reflecting the significance of charity in Jewish culture since ancient times. The Old Testament not only stresses the importance of helping those in need but also provides numerous examples that serve as timeless lessons in compassion and caring for others.

One notable instance of charity can be seen in the hospitality of Abraham towards strangers. In Genesis 18:1-8, three men appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre. Recognizing their need for rest and nourishment, Abraham went out of his way to offer them hospitality. He provided them with water to wash their feet, a place to rest under a tree, and a meal consisting of bread, milk, and a choice calf. This act of kindness and generosity towards strangers demonstrates Abraham’s compassion and exemplifies the virtue of charity.

Another inspiring example of charity is seen in the provision of Boaz for Ruth and Naomi. In the book of Ruth (2:14-16), Boaz, a wealthy landowner, showed kindness and compassion towards Ruth, a widow, and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Boaz allowed Ruth to glean in his fields, providing her with an abundant harvest. He also instructed his workers to intentionally leave extra grain for her to collect. Boaz’s benevolent actions not only met the immediate needs of Ruth and Naomi but also provided them with long-term security and support.

Job, known for his righteousness and faithfulness, demonstrated his care for the poor and needy. In Job 31:16-21, Job declared his commitment to helping those in need, stating, ‘If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the widow’s eyes grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless— but from my youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided the widow— if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep…’ Job’s actions exemplify the responsibility of the righteous to care for the less fortunate and demonstrate the true essence of charity.

King David, known for his leadership and faithfulness to God, also displayed acts of charity. In 2 Samuel 9:1-13, David sought out Mephibosheth, the crippled grandson of his late friend Jonathan. Despite the societal norms of the time, David showed kindness and generosity towards Mephibosheth, offering him a place at his table and restoring to him the land that belonged to his family. David’s compassion towards Mephibosheth emphasizes the importance of extending care and support to those who are marginalized or disadvantaged.

Isaiah, a prophet renowned for his advocacy for justice and the welfare of the oppressed, exemplifies the spirit of charity in Isaiah 58:6-10. In this passage, Isaiah challenges the people to go beyond mere religious rituals and to actively engage in acts of compassion and justice. He states, ‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?’ Isaiah’s words emphasize the importance of using one’s resources and influence to uplift the oppressed and provide for those in need.

These instances of charity in the Old Testament serve as powerful reminders of the significance of compassion and caring for others. They demonstrate the timeless lessons found in the Bible and lay the foundation for the examples of charity that are later seen in the New Testament. By following the examples of these righteous individuals, we can learn to embody the virtues of kindness, generosity, and selflessness, making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Examples of Charity in the New Testament

Examples of acts of benevolence and compassion can be found throughout the New Testament, illustrating the continuation of the theme of charity in biblical teachings. Jesus, our ultimate example of love and compassion, consistently emphasized the importance of charity in his teachings.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus tells the story of a man who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest and a Levite, both respected members of society, passed by without offering any help. However, it was a Samaritan, a person despised by the Jews, who stopped and showed compassion to the wounded man. The Samaritan took care of him, brought him to an inn, and paid for his recovery. When Jesus asked, ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus then instructed him to go and do likewise.

Another powerful example of charity is found in the story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus sat down near the temple treasury and observed people putting their offerings into the treasury box. Many rich people put in large sums, but a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which were worth only a fraction of a penny. Jesus, recognizing the sacrificial nature of her gift, commended her, saying, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’ This story highlights the transformative power of charity, where even the smallest acts of giving can have a profound impact.

Furthermore, the New Testament consistently emphasizes the importance of charity in Christian teachings. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the apostle Paul writes, ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ Love, which encompasses charity, is described as the greatest virtue. In James 1:27, it is written, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ This verse emphasizes the practical aspect of charity, showing that it involves not only financial giving but also caring for those in need.

In conclusion, the New Testament provides numerous examples and teachings on the importance of charity. Whether through the parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of the widow’s mite, or the letters of Paul and James, we are reminded of the transformative power of charity in building a strong and caring community.

Let us strive to follow the example of Jesus and practice charity in our daily lives, not only for the benefit of those we help but also for the unity, empathy, and love it fosters among people.

The Importance of Charity in Christian Teachings

Charity holds a significant position within Christian teachings, underscoring the moral responsibility of believers to extend compassion and care towards those in need. It is not merely an optional virtue, but rather a fundamental aspect of the Christian faith. Acts of love and selflessness, driven by Christian responsibility, are central to the teachings of Christ and the apostles.

The importance of charity can be understood through the following key points:

Firstly, charity reflects the character of God, who is described as merciful and loving. In 1 John 4:8, it is written, ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.’ By practicing charity, Christians strive to emulate the loving nature of God and show His love to others.

Moreover, charity demonstrates obedience to Christ’s commandment to love one another. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.’ By actively showing love and compassion through charitable acts, Christians fulfill this commandment and bear witness to their faith.

Furthermore, charity fosters unity and fellowship within the Christian community. In Acts 2:44-45, it is written, ‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.’ This passage highlights the early Christians’ devotion to caring for one another and their willingness to sacrifice their own possessions for the well-being of others. Through acts of charity, Christians build strong bonds of unity and support within their community.

Additionally, charity serves as a witness to the world, displaying the transformative power of Christ’s love. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, ‘Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ When Christians engage in acts of charity, they showcase the love and compassion of Christ, attracting others to the faith and providing a tangible example of the impact of Christ’s teachings.

Lastly, charity brings joy and fulfillment, as believers experience the blessings of giving. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, it is written, ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ Through charitable acts, Christians not only bring comfort and assistance to those in need but also experience the joy and satisfaction that come from selflessly giving and being a channel of God’s blessings.

To illustrate the significance of charity, let us turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. In this story, a man was robbed, beaten, and left by the side of the road. Both a priest and a Levite, who were considered religious leaders, passed by without helping. However, a Samaritan, who was despised by the Jews, showed compassion and went out of his way to care for the injured man. Jesus used this parable to emphasize the importance of showing mercy and love to all, regardless of social or religious differences. It serves as a powerful reminder that charity knows no boundaries and that every person in need is deserving of our help.

Lessons on Charity From the Bible

The Bible provides valuable teachings on the virtue of giving and helping others, emphasizing the moral responsibility of believers to extend compassion and assistance to those in need. One of the most well-known verses on generosity is found in 2 Corinthians 9:7, which states, ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ This verse reminds us that giving should come from a genuine place of love and willingness, rather than out of obligation.

In addition to this verse, the Bible is filled with stories that exemplify the power of selflessness and the transformative impact of acts of charity. One such story is that of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37. In this parable, a man is beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. Two religious leaders pass by without offering assistance, but a Samaritan, who was considered an outcast by society, stops to help the wounded man. He tends to his wounds, takes him to an inn, and pays for his care. Jesus uses this story to teach the importance of showing compassion and helping those in need, regardless of social status or cultural differences.

Another example of selfless giving is found in Mark 12:41-44, where Jesus observes people putting their offerings into the temple treasury. Many rich people give large sums of money, but a poor widow comes and puts in two small copper coins, all she had to live on. Jesus points out that the widow’s small offering is worth more than all the others because she gave out of her poverty, while the others gave out of their abundance. This story teaches us that the value of our giving is not determined by the amount, but by the sincerity and sacrifice behind it.

These biblical examples serve as reminders of the importance of generosity and selflessness in our lives. They show us that true giving should come from a place of genuine love and concern for others, rather than seeking recognition or personal gain. Acts of charity have the power to transform not only the lives of those we help, but also our own lives. They foster a sense of community and promote the well-being of society as a whole. As followers of Christ, we are called to extend compassion and assistance to those in need, following the teachings and examples set forth in the Bible.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.