“To live charitably means not looking out for your own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weak and the poorest among us,” says Pope Francis. However, I would like to contend with this idea of charity not being a self-interested act. Humans, at their core, are self-seeking - a thought inspired by Niccolo Machiavelli, a critical Italian philosopher. Charity is an extension of the latter three of a group of Greek inspired, levels of affection, epithyimia, eros, and agape, because it creates a beneficial relationship for both parties, where the giver expresses agape love as they attend to the receiver’s needs; the giver also expresses eros love because they desire to possess this importance and affirmation which the receiver’s gratitude conveys. Humans desire having an ontological rootedness to this world, they want to know that they belong; charity is the act of giving self or giving of self, in order to build the relationships which ontological rootedness and affirmation grow from . Human beings are selfish at their core and, for example, volunteer not only for the charitable act of it, but to reaffirm their goodness.
On the other hand, Christianity takes charity as a form of love. Christianity venerates the virtue of charity and the act of giving either one’s time or one’s self into someone because it is a way to reciprocate God’s love for us. Agape love is a step up from eros love because we are not loving the other for our own sake, but for theirs; it is typically those two types of love which can be associated with volunteering and philanthropic actions. Christian love in action combines these two to form philia love, as it forces the giver to neglect their selfishness and own needs so they may prioritize the other’s. People “who live in spiritual poverty freely choose to share and to do without for the sake of others,” are examples of extreme Christian love; the Sisters of Charity forsake their needs so that everyone may equally benefit from their profits. However, on a civilian level, Christian love is typically expressed on an agent commitment level, where the person chooses to put the needs of others on the same level of need as theirs.