Charity Begins At Home

Meanings of “Charity Begins At Home”

The proverb “charity begins at home” implies taking care of one’s home or family first before tending to others. In other words, a person should not give charity to others when his own family is in dire straits. Helping and being there for your family should be prioritized above everything else.

 Origin of “Charity Begins At Home”

 The phrase doesn’t precisely originate from the bible but the proverb “charity begins at home” is stated to have started from a Biblical reference of 1 Timothy 5:8 as given in King James Bible as;

“But if any provide not for his owne, and specially for those of his owne house, hee hath denied the faith, and is worse then an infidel.”

However, this allusion has been properly translated by John Wycliff in his poem “Of Prelates” published in 1382 where it goes thus: “Charite schuld bigyne at hem-self.”

John Marston’s play Histrio-Mastix published in the year 1610 was the first time when the words charity and home appeared together;

True charity beginneth first at home,
Heere in your bosomes dwell your deere-lov’d hearts,
Feed them with joy; first crowne their appetites,
And then cast water on the care-scroch’d face,
Let your own longings first be satisfied,
All other pitty is but foolish pryde.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Charity Begins At Home by Hasmukh Amathalal

Let us surrender
And offer
Our nobility
To the name of an almighty

We are thankful
And shameful too
For notorious acts
That should not happen in fact

Let us prove
And move
With true human behavior
And respect to others

Let us not claim any superiority
In terms of divinity
When He is one and only one
The superiority of religion should never be raised by anyone

We need to work silently
For the betterment of needy
Poor and helpless
With smile on face

That is real living
And believing
That charity begins at home
Let us live peacefully and welcome

The poet is arguing that nobody should be prideful of anything and that we should all thank God for creating human beings. What he has stressed the most in this poem is that human beings should first take care of other human beings irrespective of all prejudices and sense of superiority which are false notions of egotism. The poet has used the proverb in the second last line of the final stanza of the poem to show that real living is to adorn one’s face with a smile showing love for everyone. This is what the proverb means in the metaphorical sense.

Example #2

Charity Begins At Home by Gajanan Mishra

Charity begins at home
Right right cent percent.
You love others
You respect others
You pray
You say good words
You help a man
You remove harms
Everything is charity
I can say you are great
Your home is heaven.

The poet explains that when you love others, respect them, pay homage to them, assist and help others, it means that you have done your charity work. This is because you will become famous and popular among other human beings. Therefore, your home will turn into heaven by which he means that real happiness lies in helping human beings.

Example #3

Charity Begins at Home by 10cc

A shake of the tin
The money drops in, but is it a sin
You’re standing in rags
You’re selling your flags
But who gets the dough at the end of the day
We saw your drop-dead fancy wheels
Your little house up on the hill
But when your conscience pricks
A little sacrifice sweetens the pill

So keep your hands in your pockets
Charity begins at home
Keep your hands in your pockets
Charity won’t leave you alone

Although begging is a sin, the singer says that a person should, at least, think about himself. The singer is of the view that sometimes a little sacrifice is required to make a person great. Therefore, he must first facilitate himself to keep himself safe. Thus, the proverb has been used in the third last line to show that a person should first support himself to be able to support others.

 Example #4

From My Daughter’s Book: Containing a Selection of Approved Readings in Literature, Science, and Art, Adapted to the Formation of the Character of Woman by Baldwin and Cradock

He, whose dwelling was amid hosts of angelic worshippers, submitted to be despised, scourged, spit upon and crucified by the hands of wicked men? Can we be “followers of him as dear children” if we suffer our charity to begin at home? Did charity begin at home when the apostles went out from Jerusalem into the Gentile world, encountering perils in every place, buffetings and cruel mocking, imprisonments, tortures, and death, while they declared among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ? Can we be the true disciples of the same Lord as these first heralds of his salvation, if we make our charity begin at home.

This passage shows that charity begins at home when you help your close people like the prophets did when they migrated from Jerusalem. The rhetorical questions have the answers in the readers’ minds that the prophets first helped the people near them, as their families, and then went ahead and helped others. Therefore, the proverb has a literal meaning which is a good use of denotation.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Jonathan always lived by one principle that charity begins at home.”

Example #2: “Emma always taught her children one fundamental lesson that Charity begins at home”, and the children followed it obediently.

Example #3: “It doesn’t matter what you do when you step out of the house if Charity doesn’t begin at your home, she shouted on Jack.”

Example #4: “It is strange how often people forget that Charity begins at home.”

Example #5: “The great political leader was narrating his social services when his son interrupted and said, ‘Charity begins at home dad’.”