And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:13
‘Charity’ now means simply what used to be called ‘alms’—that is, giving to the poor. Originally it had a much wider meaning. (You can see how it got the modern sense. If a man has ‘charity’, giving to the poor is one of the most obvious things he does, and so people came to talk as if that were the whole of charity. In the same way, ‘rhyme’ is the most obvious thing about poetry, and so people come to mean by ‘poetry’ simply rhyme and nothing more.)
Charity means ‘Love, in the Christian sense’. But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people. . . .
[O]ur love for ourselves does not mean that we like ourselves. It means that we wish our own good. In the same was Christian Love (or Charity) for our neighbors is quite a different thing from liking or affection. We 'like' or are 'fond of' some people, and not of others.
It is important to understand that this natural 'liking' is neither a sin nor a virtue, any more than your likes and dislikes in food are a sin or a virtue. It is just a fact. But, of course, what we do about it is either sinful or virtuous.
Lord God, in this season of love, let me always remember the difference between liking someone and Christian charity. Amen.
~ by C. S. Lewis, from “Mere Christianity”