Feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner...the work of the heart
Works of the heart are very core to the teachings of Jesus. Matthew 25 lists the kinds of works Jesus thought his followers might take on. Distributing food and clothing, providing shelter, overturning wrongful conviction, addressing loneliness and more are worthwhile endeavours for anyone, and duties for one who identifies as Christian.
Works of the heart--or charity (from the Latin caritas)--can be extremely difficult. Serving in a soup kitchen can be hard work, physically and emotionally. Visiting prisoners can also trigger strong responses. Even though dropping off unwanted clothing can be both useful and helpful, it can be confronting at the same time.
Sometimes we'd rather work for justice, which addresses root causes but also tends to be much more comfortable (contrast writing a strong letter, coffee in hand, in pyjamas to standing at a sink transferring soup residue from pot to elbow). No doubt justice work is important, but so is charity.
How important is charity work to you? How comfortable do you find it? How strongly do you feel called to do it?
These are the questions the Christian faith puts before us as we discern God's many calls on our life.