What is the difference between a Good Work and a Christian act of Charity?
This has always been a hard question for me.
Everyone is capable of doing 'good.' We are born with this capability. God did not abandon us totally. We are bent towards doing things that are not God's intent, i.e. sin, but we are also capable of love, kindness, and all of us have a hard-wired yearning to know God. All of us. This is because we are all made in His Image and ability to know He exists at all is because he put a little of Himself in us. This is actually revelation in simplicity. God knowing himself in us and us knowing Him through Him being in us. God does it all. We just say yes to tapping into that. This is how the Spirit Himself is able to intercede on our behalf for things we do not know that we need. And this alone tells us that we are not totally evil. We are not born Devils from Hell.
So a man, by his own will can do a good work. This work is good because it is still a remnant of the good God had intended for us but it is still different from Christian Charity in that it works primarily in one dimension. Flesh. Again, that is not say flesh is bad. God created it, and chose to inhabit it, and then die for it. To say that flesh is all evil then you are saying God is evil.
So, if a man does a good work for his brother then it is indeed a good work. That work pays the bills and it puts food on the table and the giver and receiver receives a good feeling from those things. -All still in the realm of the flesh.
A Christian Charity works in both worlds. It does all that the flesh work accomplishes while accomplishing things that are also unseen. Sometimes violently. To love someone as you love Christ, as Christ loves, is loving spirit TO spirit. Your Spirit reaches out to their Spirit and feeds them. It is a mysterious and powerful thing. The effect of the monetary gift of goodness may be long lasting; the effect of the gift given in flesh AND spirit through Christ is eternal. This is why we are to love our Enemies. This is why we are to love others as you Love Christ. You are the vessel for Christ Himself to love. And when He loves, He tends to change things.