Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lesson Recap: Charity, the Pure Love of Christ

Taught by Sandy Fultz

Joseph as an example to us

James Leach, an Englishman and nonmember when he first met Joseph: When we were looking for work, he took us a few rods from the store and asked us to make a ditch. When we were done he picked two of the largest and best pieces of meat and a sack of flour for each of us and said 'If you are satisfied, boys, I am.' "We thanked him kindly, and went on our way home rejoicing in the kind-heartedness of the Prophet of our God."

Edwin Holden recalled: “In 1838, Joseph and some of the young men were playing various out-door games, among which was a game of ball. By and by they began to get weary. He saw it, and calling them together he said: ‘Let us build a log cabin.’ So off they went, Joseph and the young men, to build a log cabin for a widow woman. Such was Joseph’s way, always assisting in whatever he could.”

Several sisters in class shared stories of great charity. Kari Zorad told of a single mom she knows who was saving to pay for a wedding for one of her children and had the car break down at the same time. She had to get it repaired and was planning to use the wedding money. When she was ready to pay the mechanic he said that the customer before her overheard the extent of her bill, he offered to pay it in full, anonymously.

We express our charity through simple acts of service and kindness.
Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity,
and ought to be manifested by these
who aspire to be the [daughters] of God.

Modern-day leaders speak

Marvin J. Ashton, The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword: Charity is, perhaps, in many ways a misunderstood word. We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more.

Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again. It makes the thought of being a basher repulsive.

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet.

Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped.

Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us.

Charity is expecting the best of each other.

Bonnie D. Parkin, Choosing Charity: That Good Part: The story of Mary and Martha also illustrates how the gift of charity can be diminished. Within Martha’s request for assistance was an unspoken but clear judgment: “I am right; she is wrong.”

Do we judge one another? Do we criticize each other for individual choices, thinking we know better, when in fact we rarely understand another’s unique circumstance or individual inspiration? Have we ever said, “She works outside the home.” Or, “Her son didn’t serve a mission.” Or, “She’s too old for a calling.” Or, “She can’t—she’s single.” Such judgments, and so many others like them, rob us of the good part, that pure love of Christ.

We also lose sight of that good part when we compare ourselves to others. Her hair is cuter, my legs are fatter, her children are more talented, or her garden’s more productive—sisters, you know the drill. We just can’t do that. We cannot allow ourselves to feel inadequate by focusing on who we aren’t instead of on who we are! We are all sisters in Relief Society. We simply cannot criticize, gossip, or judge and keep the pure love of Christ. Can’t you hear the Lord’s sweet injunction: “Martha, Martha … ?”

Sandy related a story about being an 18-year-old new to Relief Society and asked to visit teach a woman who was much older and had a tendency to complain. She was reluctant but as she got to know this sister and her family she came to know her heart and to love her.

Love for Christ, from Christ, like Christ

C. Max Caldwell, Love of Christ: First, love for Christ. This concept proclaims Jesus as the object of our love, and our lives should be an external expression of our gratitude for him....How deeply do we love him? Does our love depend on favorable environments? Is it diminished or strengthened by our experiences? Is our love for him evident by our behavior and our attitude? Charity, or love for Christ, sustains us in every need and influences us in every decision....

A second dimension of the meaning of charity is love from Christ. From a prophet of the Book of Mormon comes an inspired explanation. Speaking to the Lord, Moroni declared: “Thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world. …

“This love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity.” (Ether 12:33–34.)

Through his compliance with the severe requirements of the Atonement, the Savior offered the ultimate expression of love.

A third perception of charity is to possess a love that is like Christ. In other words, people are the object of Christlike love. Nephi said: “I have charity for my people …

“I have charity for the Jew …

“I also have charity for the Gentiles.” (2 Ne. 33:7–9.)...

Is it a coincidence that missionaries give a portion of their lives in behalf of others, then come home and testify of their great love for the people they have served? Is it any wonder that bishops and other priesthood and auxiliary leaders who sacrifice for others are filled with love for those who are recipients of their labors? Is there a greater love among mortals than that of a mother, who offers all for her child? Many who desire to have charity like Jesus attain it as he did....

Charity is not just a precept or a principle, nor is it just a word to describe actions or attitudes. Rather, it is an internal condition that must be developed and experienced in order to be understood. We are possessors of charity when it is a part of our nature. People who have charity have a love for the Savior, have received of his love, and love others as he does.

Thanks to Sandy for reminding us of these important concepts regarding charity.

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