When I first heard these words years ago they made a solid impression on me. “The love of Christ impels us . . . .” (2 Cor. 5:14) It is the love of Christ which compelled St. Paul to do all that he did. It is the love of Christ that should be our motivation, our source of strength, our desire, and our guiding force. Christ’s love is essential for the life of any Christian.
Interestingly enough, the word love [αγαπη (agape) in Greek / caritas in Latin] is often interchanged with the word charity.
I think that it is beneficial to see if our actions are motivated by love/charity or by something other. Jesus pointed out that “. . . every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” (Mt. 7:17) The fruit of our actions should be Christian love. Remember what they said of the Christians of the early Church (according to Tertullian): “See how those Christians love one another.”
Ask yourself a few questions:
· Do my actions towards others show love/charity?
· Are my words about others or towards others ever mean, bitter or uncharitable?
· Does my time in prayer motivate me to acts of service (charity) towards my brothers and sisters?
· Am I highly critical always trying to find the faults in others instead of trying to see and find the good in others? Do I see Christ in others?
· Do I make an attempt to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me? (cf. Mt. 5:44)
· Do I compliment and encourage others for things that they have done?
· Do I thank others regularly?
· Do I tell my spouse or children that I love them on a regular basis?
· Do I try to build up others rather than tear down or belittle them?
In essence, is my life one that speaks of Christian charity?
It is rather easy to see if a person has made significant progress in the spiritual life by seeing if love or charity is apparent in that person. Think about it.
Fr. Ed Namiotka