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Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.

“Faith, hope and charity — that’s the way to live successfully. How do I know? The Bible tells me so!” Although it’s been many, many years since I last heard Dale Evans, Roy Rogers’ spouse, sing those words, I’ve never forgotten them. It’s a blessed lifetime memory!

What was she singing about? 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” New Bible translations term “charity” as “love.” Is it the same, charity and love? In some respect, yes; others, no.

“Charity” is something freely shared with someone, known or unknown, without receiving recognition ... without receiving anything in return.

That’s what the Apostle Paul would say in 1 Corinthians 13:5, as he speaks across the ages that love, “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” Our late President Ronald Reagan would agree, as he once said there’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.

At the heart of the many ministries characteristic of the church I am privileged to serve, charity is foremost. It is not welfare, nor a handout. 1 Corinthians 13:4 exemplifies our efforts to reach out to the least, the last, the lost and the lonely: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”

Jesus was queried by a young professional man as to what is one’s relationship to others. Christ quoted what we find in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, when He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they strength, and with all they mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” in Luke 10:27.

An impossibly tall order ... or the ultimate standard to which we who know and follow Jesus Christ should strive?

Remember, we love and serve the least, the lost and the lonely for Jesus.

The Rev. Nathan M. Ware is pastor of Depews Chapel United Methodist Church in Kingsport.

The Rev. Nathan M. Ware is pastor of Depews Chapel United Methodist Church in Kingsport.