Perhaps nothing can illustrate the premise that Charity and Love are two different things, than to examine the opposite of Charity. We saw in the previous posts how that Charity is the character that love should have. We saw that a person can operate that character without really loving the person who is the object of the charity. Recent sociological studies have shown that arranged marriages are often happier and more successful than traditional Western marriages even when the couples move to Western lands.
We can be sure that those marriages that could not and did not start with love, succeeded because the participants conducted themselves by the principals of I Corinthians 13:4-7 whether they had ever read the passage or not. Long before they ever fall in love, they will long suffer each other. They won't behave unseemly and and they won't get puffed up one against the other. Under the sweet umbrella of charity, a lasting deep love will form.
Western marriages all too often are based on love between two people of weak character. Such a marriage is doomed from the onset unless one, or preferably both of the participants develops character. The character necessary to keep a marriage happy is written in the Bible but is most often missed because it is mislabeled as love.
It is a mistake to think that hate is the opposite of charity. Hate will often suffer long. Absalom waited a long time to get even. Hate will most often hide itself by not acting puffed up, or behaving selflessly to eventually destroy the object of its hatred. In times of slave scares in the old South such as Nat Turner's or the Denmark Vesey uprising in South Carolina, slave owners detected an icy cold hatred in many of their slaves hidden behind a mask of utter civility.
In William Freehling's epic book, The Road to Disunion, he recounts the story of a sheriff's party going to a plantation in Florence, South Carolina to arrest the trusted house servant of a wealthy plantation owner. When the plantation owner finally was shown the proof that his trusted "Cuffy" was indeed plotting rebellion, he asked his trusted house servant, "what were you going to do with me?" His house servant calmly told him that he had intended to cut his master's guts out and throw them in his face. Hate can suffer long.
No, hate is not the opposite of charity. The character of hate is the opposite of charity. The opposite of charity is bitterness. Bitterness is the character of hate. It is a tenet of my ministry and of my understanding of the word of God that Charity is not love itself, but is instead the character of love. Not everyone who loves practices the precepts of I Corinthians 13. Their love becomes ineffectual. Not everyone who practices I Corinthians 13 loves. Instead, they have a character that teaches them to obey each of the precepts of I Corinthians 13 towards everyone they meet. That is a pleasant person to be near. Conversely, there is a character of hate. It is called bitterness. Not everyone who is bitter hates. Just as a person out of good character can practice charity towards a person that is a perfect stranger to them, so a person incapable of hate because of the love of Christ can practice the character of hate through bitterness. We look at that more intently in the next post.