Looking to download a PDF of A Model of Christian Charity? Here’s a direct link to the document, as well as a brief overview of the work.
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A Model of Christian Charity is a 1630 Puritan sermon by John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was delivered on board the Arbella while on route to the New World. Puritans believed that God had chosen them to create a model society and that their success or failure would be an example to other societies. This sermon encapsulates that belief and sets forth Puritan ideas about individual and community responsibility.
The Need for Love
Why should Christians love one another? The answer is found in A Model of Christian Charity, written by Puritan minister John Winthrop in 1630. This important work was written on the eve of the Puritans’ journey to the New World aboard the ship Arbella.
The command to love one another
Christians are called to love one another. This commandment is repeated several times throughout the Bible, in various ways. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Christ’s mandate to love others is twofold: we are to love others as He has loved us, and we are to love others in the same way that we love ourselves.
Christians are to “love their neighbor as themselves” (Mark 12:31). This means that our level of care and concern for others should match our level of care and concern for ourselves. We should not love others less than we love ourselves, nor should we love ourselves more than we love others. We should strive for a healthy balance of self-love and other-centeredness.
In addition to this general commandment to love all people, Christians are also commanded to show preferential treatment to fellow believers. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). When a fellow Christian strays from the path of righteousness, it is our duty to help him get back on track, just as we would want someone to do for us if we were in his shoes. We are also instructed to show preference to widows and orphans (James 1:27) and to those who are suffering (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Ultimately, the command to love one another is a reflection of God’s own character. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). Just as God loves us unconditionally and sacrificially, we are called to do the same toward others. When we extend Christ-like love to those around us, we exemplify the very nature of God Himself.
The example of Christ
Christians are to follow the example of Christ (John 13:34-35), who ” though he was in the form of God, … emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, … and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-8). This self-giving love was not a sentimental emotion but rather a decision of the will based on faith commitment (1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). It involved costly obedience and required dying to self (Luke 9:23; 14:26).
The Objects of Love
Love must be without dissimulation. It must be general. charity. It cannot be…
Who is our neighbor? The answer to this question may seem obvious, but it’s worth taking a closer look. In the Bible, the word “neighbor” is used to refer to both fellow human beings and members of the animal kingdom. In other words, our neighbors are not just the people who live next door or down the street. They are also the animals with whom we share this planet.
The Bible tells us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). This means that we are to treat them with compassion, kindness, and respect. We are to care for them and meet their needs as best we can. This is the model of love that Jesus Christ showed us, and it is the model that we are called to follow.
One of the most important things that Christians are called to do is to love their neighbor, and this includes strangers. In his famous essay “A Model of Christian Charity,” Puritan minister John Winthrop talks about the importance of loving those who are different from us, even if they are not part of our community.
Winthrop explains that strangers are not just people who live far away or come from a different culture. A stranger can also be someone who is close to us but whom we do not know well. He says that we should treat strangers with the same love and kindness that we would show to our own family members.
Winthrop goes on to say that it is not always easy to love strangers, but it is something that we must strive to do. He notes that there will be times when strangers will come into our lives and we will be tempted to turn them away, but we must resist this temptation and instead welcome them with open arms.
The essay “A Model of Christian Charity” is a powerful reminder of the importance of loving those who are different from us. It is a call to action for Christians to show warmth and kindness to all people, regardless of whether they are part of our community or not.
The enemy, according to Williams, is not another Christian sect or group, but “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” The world is all of humanity that exists outside of Christ’s Church. The flesh is our sinful human nature. The devil is Satan, who tempted Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden.
The Nature of Love
Love is the fundamental and defining characteristic of God. It is who He is. It is from this infinite reservoir of love that He created the universe and everything in it, including you and me. This love that God has for us is not based on anything we have done or could do.
Love is patient
One of the most important things to remember about love is that it is patient. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is patient, love is kind.” This means that when we love someone, we are patient with them. We don’t get angry at them easily. We are kind to them, even when they don’t deserve it.
Love is kind
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.(1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
The Results of Love
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Christians are called to model their lives after Christ’s example of perfect love. This love is not based on feelings or emotions, but on a decision to follow Christ’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) When we allow the Holy Spirit to produce these fruit in our lives, we will naturally be motivated to express Christ’s love in our relationships with others.
The following PDF download provides a more in-depth look at what it means to have a Christ-like character and how we can cultivate these fruit in our lives.
A changed world
When we love one another, the world around us is changed. Community becomes possible, and hope becomes real. People are able to see beyond their differences and work together for the common good. Love fosters understanding and acceptance, and it opens up new possibilities for relationships and for the world.