Gospel Principles, Lesson 30, Charity
Taught by Margie Clark
What is charity?In Choosing Charity: That Good Part, Bonnie Parkin, October Conference 2003:
Mormon teaches us that “charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.”
The pure love of Christ. Let’s look at that. What does this phrase mean?
We find part of the answer in Joshua: “Take diligent heed … to love the Lord your God … and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Charity is our love for the Lord, shown through our acts of service, patience, compassion, and understanding for one another.
Charity is the greatest of all virtuesThe prophet Mormon tells us, “Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever” (Moroni 7:46–47
Charity includes giving to the sick, afflicted, and poor
Mosiah 4: 16-18, 22 tells us:
And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
President Thomas S. Monson reminded us that there are those who need more than material goods:
“Let us ask ourselves the questions: ‘Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?’ [Hymns, no. 223].
What a formula for happiness! What a prescription for contentment, for inner peace—to have inspired gratitude in another human being.
Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.
Charity is a condition of the heartAnne Pingree, Charity: One Family, One Home at a Time, October 2002 General Conference said:
“Many small people in many small places doing many small things can alter the face of the earth.” To me that phrase speaks of what each of us—as covenant women—can do to make a difference as we step forward offering our hearts and hands to the Lord by lifting and loving others.
...Elder Dallin H. Oaks teaches us that charity “is not an act but a condition or state of being [one becomes].” Our day-to-day offerings of charity are “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; … in [the] fleshy tables of [our] heart[s].”
Little by little our charitable acts change our natures, define our characters, and ultimately make us women with the courage and commitment to say to the Lord, “Here am I; send me.”
Developing the virtue of charityGene R. Cook, Charity: Perfect and Everlasting Love, October 2002 General Conference said:
1. Recognize His love. “Pray … with all the energy of heart” for this gift. Do so in meekness with a broken heart, and you will be filled with hope and love from the Holy Ghost Himself. He will reveal Christ to you.
It is part of the gift of charity to be able to recognize the Lord’s hand and feel His love in all that surrounds us. At times it will not be easy to discover the Lord’s love for us in all that we experience, because He is a perfect, anonymous giver. You will search all your life to uncover His hand and the gifts He has bestowed upon you because of His intimate, modest, humble way of granting such wonderful gifts.
Ponder with me a moment the following majestic gifts: the glories of all creation, the earth, the heavens; your feelings of love and joy; His responses of mercy, forgiveness, and innumerable answers to prayer; the gift of loved ones; and finally the greatest gift of all—the Father’s gift of His atoning Son, the perfect one in charity, even the God of love.
2. Receive His love in humility. Be grateful for the gift and especially for the giver of the gift. True gratitude is the ability to humbly see, feel, and even receive love. Gratitude is a form of returning love to God. Recognize His hand, tell Him so, express your love to Him. As you come to truly know the Lord, you will find an intimate, sacred relationship built on trust. You will come to know He understands your anguish and will, in compassion, always respond to you in love.
Receive it. Feel it. It is not enough just to know that God loves you. The gift is to be felt continually day by day. It will then be a divine motivator throughout your life. Repent. Remove any worldliness from your life, including anger. Receive a continual remission of your sins, and you will bridle all your passions and be filled with love.
3. Convey His love. The Lord’s response to us is always filled with love. Should not our response to Him be in kind, with real feelings of love? He gives grace (or goodness) for grace, attribute for attribute. As our obedience increases, we receive more grace (or goodness) for the grace we return to Him. Offer Him the refinement of your attributes, so that when He does appear you will be like Him.
As a man first immerses his thoughts in love and conveys those feelings to God, man, or self, a magnified portion of that attribute will surely follow from the Spirit. That is true of all godly attributes. Righteous feelings generated by a man seem to precede the increase of those feelings from the Spirit. Unless you are feeling love, you cannot convey true love to others. The Lord has told us to love one another as He loves us, so remember: to be loved, truly love.
Sisters, let charity start with ourselves and our sisters in our ward this day.In Choosing Charity: That Good Part, Bonnie Parkin, October Conference 2003 says:
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 … ?”
Elder Marvin J. Ashton beautifully observed: “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.”
In exercising charity, we come to know a sister’s heart. When we know a sister’s heart, we are different. We won’t judge her. We will simply love her. I invite you to not only love each other more but love each other better.
As we do this we will come to know with a surety that “charity never faileth.”