And the Greatest of These…

“Are your sister’s names, Faith and Hope?”

…“Charity begins at home.”

How many times have I heard these statements? Every single person seems to think they are the first to say it to me.

I think the name we carry has great meaning and effects us in ways that neither our parents or we could predict. This may be the subconscious reason why all new parents agonize over what they will name their children. I asked my mom why they named me Charity. She said that it sounded pretty, that Charity Nicole meant Love’s Victory, and it was in the Bible.

One repercussion of my name stems from our cultural misunderstanding of what Charity really is. Although the dictionary definition is love, universal benevolence, good will, there are many who fixate on the connotation of “ something for nothing” or “pity”. Try being in a service industry when many clients are under the impression that your services are free or somehow worth less based solely on the fact that your name is Charity. Good times….good times.

I have a great interest in language and etymology. I have studied French, Japanese, Hebrew, Spanish, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek, Sanskrit and of coarse English. Since the basis of my parents naming me Charity is based on the Bible I went there to find the origins of my name. I am not a Bible scholar and can not read the text in the original language. Which, I will admit is extremely limiting. That being said, to the best of my ability with the English translations at hand I have thoroughly researched the meaning of my name.

This is what I learned in a nut shell.

* There are 29 references to Charity in the New Testament

*Charity-English
– compassion
-humbleness
-gentleness
-purity
-love

*Caritas-Latin
-preciousness
-dearness
-high price
-freely given

*Charis-Xapia-Greek
-grace
-favor

*Chesed-Hebrew
-loving kindness
-generosity
-mercy

According to the many scriptures referencing Charity, it is a quality that goes above and beyond the external acts of philanthropy. It is an understanding of the deep interconnectedness of all people. The wiping away of all prejudice, of thought, of deed, politics, religion and socioeconomic status. I suppose you can distill all of that down to the simple word of LOVE, but it means oh so much more.

This is a lot to live up to. What a mission statement. It strives for the most lofty ideals of my parents faith. I am sure it will take more than a lifetime to achieve.

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