The movie “A Walk to Remember,” based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel, always teaches me something about love. Mandy Moore plays Jamie Sullivan, a plain, unpopular and unassuming high school girl with strong Christian values. Jamie is cruelly taunted by the in-crowd, even as she is thrown together with popular Landon Carter.
The love story unfolds as Jamie inspires Landon to reach higher in life, be kinder to people and have faith in God. Jamie serves and loves others with a determination born of her tragic condition: she is dying of leukemia.
Jamie teaches Landon the meaning of charity. Her unconditional love alters the course of Landon’s life.
Charity means more than giving to the poor. It is having the love of God in our hearts. It means loving our neighbors as ourselves and having compassion and empathy for those who seem weird or different. It’s cheering others on rather than being competitive or jealous.
According to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (KJV), charity is kind and long-suffering. With charity, we don’t envy, we’re not “easily provoked,” we’re not “puffed up,” and we’re able to bear and endure “all things.” Most importantly, “charity never faileth.”
Why is charity so relevant to our lives?
It teaches our kids selflessness
We often see so much entitlement and self-centeredness among people, especially kids. Many kids expect and demand the latest iPhones and other gizmos, name-brand shoes, etc. So much focus is on accumulating things and being wrapped up in oneself. The zillions of “selfie” pictures on social media can attest to that. But charity “seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
When we shift the focus to helping and lifting others, our children learn valuable lessons. Most kids are, by nature, pretty selfish. Love and service to others is a learned behavior. Putting love into action sets the example. Gathering clothes or toys for the needy, donating time to a soup kitchen or other organization, serving the sick or lonely and cheering for others in their pursuits teaches our kids how to care about people.
Charity brings peace and joy
The rewards for quiet kindness to others usually aren’t public accolades or material possessions — they’re so much better.
That feeling that we’ve done something right warms our hearts. We want to experience that joy again and again.
We become more Christ like
Jesus spent his life caring for others. Washing dusty feet, healing the sick and sharing his gospel, he tirelessly served the individual.
It’s not always easy to exhibit Christ like love. An annoying neighbor or grumpy co-worker usually makes us want to run the other way. But, when we strive to find the good in others and seek to understand and serve them, our perspectives change. Our hearts soften.
We inspire others to love
Occasionally, stories surface of wonderful deeds performed by nameless good Samaritans. Cash tucked into groceries or “angels” paying off layaway charges at Walmart are startling news stories that warm our hearts. We might wish that we could be the lucky recipients, but perhaps others need the favors even more. We’re impacted by the kindness of mankind.
Selfishness breeds selfishness. Likewise, acts of generosity compel us to wonder, “What can I do for someone?” Paying it forward is charity in action.
Charity brings peace and sets a positive example for our children and others.