Are We People of Charity?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity . . .

The next question in this series is are we people of charity? I’ve thought a lot about charity lately since studying for and writing my talk on the love of Christ a few weeks ago. I wonder often if I am doing enough to really be considered a woman of charity. Charity is the love of Christ. In Moroni 7:47 we read, “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” It is something that every disciple and follower of Christ should desire to have in them.

The Bible Dictionary says that Charity is “The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection”. I know that there are certain people who I have this love towards, for example my family. I want to give them all that I can and serve them to bring them happiness. It is usually the easiest, and occasionally the hardest thing, to have charity for those in our own household. I think that part of the reason why God has designed the family as the center of the gospel is that we can best learn how to have charity in the home. A person of charity is someone who has a continual desire to love, help, motivate, uplift, encourage and teach their family.

To have charity is to desire for others to be the best they can be. In 1 Corinthians 8:1 we read, “Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” If we have charity, we want to edify others. I had an eye-opening experience once when I served as a leader for the women at church. I was struggling with the idea of loving those I serve, because I didn’t feel like I had achieved the kind of love I should have had after over three years of serving them. A young man spoke in sacrament meeting about how he realized he had come to love those he served while on his mission. He said he knew he loved them when he realized how much he cared for them. As I sat in a lesson with the women later that same day, I realized that I had a deep desire for every one of those women to be edified in their lives. I wanted them to be the best they could be, or rather I had a glimpse of who God saw they could be. That was a moment of charity for me, a moment that I realized a portion of what the love of Christ was.

We read about charity in 1 Corinthians 13 as well, where it says the following:

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

To be a person of charity, we need to have a long-suffering love for others. It means to be patient in our relationships with others. To love through affliction, trials, and other hardships is to have charity. It is to be the kind of person who will stick around for someone even when times get difficult. It means that when moments arise where offense could be taken, we have a Christlike attitude of forgiveness and understanding and we continue to love them. Sometimes others will want to shut us out, but rather than cut ties and move on, the charitable person remains available in the hopes that someday they will want to return. For me, being long-suffering towards others is a small things compared to how often our Father in Heaven is long-suffering towards us. How many times do we go without saying our prayers or worshipping God and yet we still have moments where we recognize his love and open arms towards us when we choose to accept him.

A charitable person is kind to everyone, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how they behave towards us. To be kind we must be willing to follow the golden rule. In Matthew 7:12 we read, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” I don’t think that anyone truly wants to be treated unkindly by anyone and if we live as a person of charity, we will not treat anyone in a way that we would not want to be treated.

We should be more than willing to celebrate the successes of others, because a person of charity does not envy others. In Proverbs 14:30 we read, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” I am pretty sure that love and envy cannot coexist. In contrast, a charitable person is grateful for the things that they have and grateful that others have been blessed as well.

Pride is not a characteristic of someone who is charitable. We cannot “vaunteth” or brag and boast about ourselves and hope to have the mind to think of others. I went to a lesson one time where the teacher used a visual to teach us this. She walked around to others with a mirror in front of herself, trying to uplift others when all she could see was herself. Then she did it again, but with a window pane, to represent looking outside of ourselves to serve others. A person of charity, will forget about themselves to help others. A person of charity is more concerned with building others up, not with putting themselves above others. In Matthew 23:12 we read, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” A person of charity is humble and grateful to God for everything.

A person of charity is modest in their behavior. If we claim to take upon ourselves the name of Christ when we are baptized and make covenants with the Lord, then we need to behave as Christ would. We show our love of the Savior, by honoring his name in our thoughts, words and actions. John 5:23 reads, “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” We honor God, when we honor the Savior with our charitable behavior.

We cannot be a people of charity if we are selfish. If we choose to keep to ourselves, all the wonderful things that we have been blessed with, we cannot be called charitable. In Matthew 16:26, Jesus taught, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” A person of charity shares the good news of the gospel through their testimony of things they know to be true. A person of charity shares the talents they have been given, by using them to uplift and help others. A person of charity willingly gives what they can spare to help those in need.

Patience is a virtue of a charitable person. To be “not easily provoked”, is to be a person who thinks before responding in any unkind way. A charitable person recognizes that as different people, with different beliefs and circumstances, we may have differences of opinions. A person of charity can see that everyone has agency and that the things others may do or say will not be able to destroy anything that really matters in the bigger picture. A person of charity is able to control their own thoughts and actions, and can choose to forgive the offenses of others. In James 1 we read the following:

19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

We cannot do the work of the Lord or be an instrument in His hands, if we are easily provoked or quick to anger. We cannot show the love of Christ to others when we are not in control of our judgement and anger.

A person of charity is focused on that which is good. To think evil, is to invite Satan into our hearts and minds. In Matthew 6:24 we read, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” A charitable person does the work of the Lord and brings his light and love to others. If we cannot serve both the Lord and his enemy, we cannot think evil and serve the Lord. A person of charity will do their best not to be in situations where evil thoughts would enter their mind. They would strive to read good books, listen to good music, and involve themselves in other good activities. When we are continually looking for the good in the world or in people, we will be able to find it and evil thoughts will not fill our minds.

The attributes of a person of charity could go on. There are so many things that we should be striving towards, if we hope to posses the pure love of Christ. I am so glad that we have this life to work on this every day. I am even more grateful for the atonement, because I am very aware of my own faults and my human nature, which gives me the need to repent often for my mistakes. I know that being a charitable person is what will bring us closer to Christ, and that it is not something that we become overnight. I hope that throughout my life, I will continue to strive to be the woman of charity, that God would have me be.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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