This month in our “Year of Charity” we have been exploring the concept of “Charity thinketh no evil.” There are so many things I want to say about this topic, but I’m going to just explore one aspect of this idea.
One of my favorite books is Bonds That Make Us Free by C. Terry Warner. In the book, Dr. Warner recounts a parable from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard:
“Imagine, he says, two artists. One travels the world over to find a human subject worthy of his skill as a painter of portraits. But so exacting are his standards and so fastidious his judgment that he has yet to discover a single person worthy of his efforts. Every potential subject is marred by some disqualifying flaw.
“The second artist, on the other hand, has no special admiration for his own skill. Consequently, he never thinks to look beyond his immediate circle of neighbors for his subjects. Nevertheless, he has yet to find a face without something beautiful in it, something eminently worthy to be portrayed.
“Wouldn’t this indicate, Kierkegaard asks, that the second painter is the real artist? Yes, he says, because this man ‘brings a certain something with him’ that enables him to find in others that which is worthy to paint. The other man could not find anything worthy to paint anywhere in the world because he did not bring with him this ‘certain something.’
“So it is with love, says Kierkegaard. Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals–any individuals–that others cannot see.
“Unless we change our hearts toward the people we struggle with here and now, we are condemned to struggle with whomever we may find ourselves associating with.“
I love this concept! When we think about charity and “thinking no evil,” could it mean that we need to stop looking for the bad in those around us and start seeking for ways we can love them, no matter their flaws? Could it be that it is our change of heart that will transform our relationships? When we choose not to think poorly of other people, but instead offer them charity, that is when we tap into the real power of love.