Does the word "charity" signify to us what it did to the writer of the epistles to the Corinthians? It is evident from the thirteenth chapter of the first epistle that Paul knew both the meaning and therefore the practice of charity.
The apostle had been talking to the people of Corinth of some of the parts which they might be called upon to play, where opportunity and responsibility go hand in hand. He himself was a man of signal gifts, of fierce energy and eager ambition. He had sought public notice and the influencing of others. He knew the value of ability and the attraction of power. But he knew also that neither men's hearts nor their minds if untouched by Love are to be relied upon. And so he exhorted them, in the midst of all their desire to display their talents and fulfill their various callings, not to let such things be their goal. "Covet earnestly the best gifts," he said to them, "and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
And then he set out to tell them that all human attributes and achievements, even the most brilliant, the most sacrificial, were worthless without charity. This was the vision which had flashed with such blinding force upon the man who on his way to Damascus, coveting earnestly the best gifts, had been taught to see that the more excellent way is not that of human will but of human surrender to divine power.