Posts Tagged 'Charity'

2 Samuel Chapter 14

Absalom, was the son of David, who had killed his brother out of revenge. He had fled to Geshur, where he had family from his Mother’s side. David wanted to see his son, in fact the last verse of chapter 13, said that his soul longed to go to him. Joab, who led the king’s army and happened to be his nephew, was a faithful servant to David. This chapter tells the story of what Joab did to help the king.

1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was toward Absalom.
2 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:
3 And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.

Joab made a plan for a wise woman to go to king David disguised as a woman who mourned for a long time. He told her the words to speak to David.

4 And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.
5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.
7 And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.
8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.
9 And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father’s house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.
10 And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.
11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the Lord thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
12 Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
13 And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.
14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.
15 Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.
16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.
17 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the Lord thy God will be with thee.
18 Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.
19 And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:
20 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.

The woman pleaded for help from David. She told David a story about her problem. She said that she was a widow with two sons. Her sons had been together in a field and one killed the other. She said that her family was all against her at this time, because they wanted her to deliver up the son who had killed his brother, so that they could kill him for his crime. If they did this, they would take away the heir of her family, leaving her alone and she would be left with nothing. In the law of Moses, it was known that the family of one who had been killed by another, where allowed to seek revenge out of justice. The family would not have been in trouble for doing so according to the law. However, David told her to return to her home and he would take charge of her. She told him that the problem was for her and her family, but that the king was not responsible. David told her that anyone who spoke against her, could be sent to the king and she would be protected. She reminded the king that he would not allow anyone to kill her son by revenge, as she said her family planned to do. David promised that no one would be allowed to harm her son. The woman asked to speak further with the king and he allowed her. Then, she said, what she had really come to say. She said that the king himself did this thing, by not allowing his own banished son to return home. Everyone will die and no one is different in the eyes of God. But God works to bring home those that are banished from Him, because he is a merciful God. If the king was willing to hear her story and help her, she suggested that she reveal herself and the Lord would be with David in deciding what to do. David told her to reveal herself to him. He asked her if Joab had arranged this. She admitted that this was true and that David had been wise.

21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.
23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face.

David recognized what he had done and told Joab to bring Absalom to him. Joab thanked David for it, honoring him with a blessing, and went to bring Absalom from Geshur. He told Joab to have Absalom go back to his home and not to come to the king at this point. According to the chapter header, this was about three years since he had left Jerusalem.

25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight.
27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.

Absalom was described as a man of great beauty, without blemish, and long and heavy hair. He had three sons, and a beautiful daughter named Tamar. In returning, he would have been able to go back to his family again.

28 So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face.
29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.
30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?
32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.
33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.

For two years, Absalom lived in Jerusalem, without seeing his father’s face. Absalom asked Joab to go to the king for him, but he would not do it. He asked again and was denied again. Absalom had his servants set Joab’s field on fire, in order to get his attention. Joab came to him and asked him why he had done this thing. Absalom said that he wanted Joab to go to the king and ask him why he had brought him from Geshur. He could have stayed there and it would have been good, as he was safe from harm there, but now he wanted to see the face of his father, the king. If the king felt there was any iniquity in Absalom, he could have him killed, according to the law. Joab went to the king and told him this, and Absalom was called for by David. He came to the king and bowed to the ground before him. David kissed his son to show that he was reconciled to him.

It could not have been easy for David to handle these situations within his own family. As the king, he would have had so much to do and think about for his people. Adding the difficulty that must have existed knowing Amnon had taken advantage of his daughter, would have been hard enough for any loving father. Then, having Amnon, his first born son, killed out of revenge for it, must have been heartbreaking. Finally, Absalom had fled to another land and was no longer in Jerusalem with the rest of his family. David’s heart must have been aching and struggling to know how to grieve, comfort, and forgive, while still remaining a strong and able king for Israel. Joab was kind to risk his standing with David, to show him that he needed to forgive and bring his son back into his life in order to have peace come to his heart. Sometimes, in order to give greater help to those we love, we have to take risks, or make decisions, that may hurt them. Sometimes these decisions might hurt us as well, but it is true charity, to care for the welfare of another soul in doing so. Though it is not exactly related, I can’t help but think of the example of the Savior. He made the decision to follow through with the atonement and crucifixion. He chose to hurt His closest friends by leaving them and allowing them to go on without Him, and then made the decision to suffer the greatest a man would ever suffer, with the intent to bring an infinitely greater help to those who knew Him in His life, as well as to all mankind. This was pure love. This was charity.

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1 Samuel Chapter 30

David and his army were sent away from the Philistine army, as they went to fight the Israelites under King Saul. The Philistine princes had been worried that David would turn on them during the fight, and the strength of David was known throughout the land. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.

Ziklag was the area where David and his men had lived among the Philistines for a long time at this point. It was a land that had previously belonged to the tribe of Judah, but had become part of the Philistine land. Achish had given the land to David while as he served him. When they arrived at their home, David learned that the Amalekites had invaded, burned Ziklag, and taken their women captive.

3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.
8 And David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
9 So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.
10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

David and his men saw that their families were taken and the city was destroyed, and it brought them to tears. David’s wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, had been taken. The men were so upset that the talked of stoning David because their families were not protected. David turned to the Lord and was encouraged or strengthened in spirit. He trusted in the Lord and asked the priest to bring him the ephod, or holy garment. David prayed to the Lord and asked if he should go after the Amalekites. The Lord answered that he should pursue them and that they would be able to rescue all of their families. David left two hundred of his men behind at the brook Besor, because they were too faint to continue, and he and four hundred men went to pursue the Amalekites.

11 And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water;
12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.
13 And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.
14 We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.
15 And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.

As they journeyed, David’s men found an Egyptian in the field. After giving him food and water, David went to him. He asked who he belonged to, or who was his master. The man said he was the servant of an Amalekite. He had gotten sick and his master had left him behind three days before they met him. He told them that they had attacked Ziklag, as well as the borders of Judah. David asked the man to bring him to the Amalekite company. The man swore that if they would let him live and promise not to return him to his master, he would take them.

16 And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.
17 And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.
18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.
19 And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.
20 And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.

They agreed and he took them to the army of Amalekites. The Amalekites were celebrating their victories with drinking and dancing, when David and his men attacked them. He fought them from about a day and killed all but four hundred men who had been on camels and escaped. David regained all the spoils that the Amalekites had taken, including his wives. All of the men had their families and belongings returned to them. David took the flocks and herds of the Amalekites as his spoil.

21 And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them.
22 Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.
23 Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand.
24 For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.
25 And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.

David returned to his two hundred men who had been left behind and when they came to meet him, the men among the four hundred who were unrighteous and selfish men, said they would not share the spoil with these men. They wanted only to give them their families and tell them to leave. David told them they could not do this with the things that the Lord had helped them to gain, by delivering the Amalekites into their hands. David made a decree that all those who remained and watched over what was left behind, would receive the same from the spoils as those who went to fight in the battle. They would split all things equally. This rule became an ordinance for David from then on, and because of that, it became a rule for Israel.

26 And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord;
27 To them which were in Beth-el, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,
28 And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,
29 And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites,
30 And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chor-ashan, and to them which were in Athach,
31 And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.

David sent spoils from the fight, to the elders of Judah as a gift, and to the people of all the areas where David and his men would often stay. Again, David was able to show that he was loyal to Israel, because he was loyal to the Lord.

One of the things I learn from this chapter, is the kindness of David when he followed the Lord. In this chapter, David proved again that he was a leader of great strength. Once again, he fought and won, so much so that not one thing had been lost to himself or to his men. His enemies were no match for him, and their only victory had come when he and his men were not present. Other leaders of his day, would have likely taken the spoils and such for themselves. After all, they did the work, they deserved the prize. The pride of leaders like that, would lead them to see those who had been too weak to fight and then give them only what the fairness of men felt they deserved. David was not like this. He knew that all should be blessed by the strength of their army. David knew that they had only been able to be victorious, because the Lord had guided their path and allowed that they would find one sickly, Egyptian servant who had nothing to loose in helping them. He knew that the Lord had blessed them, and it was not their place to determine who was worthy of the rewards. I think that this can be a lesson to us in our own lives as well. If we want to be kind and charitable disciples of Christ, and loyal sons and daughters of God, we should follow his example. When we are blessed, we should turn and bless the lives of others, instead of selfishly keeping these things to ourselves. The Lord blesses the faithful, so that they can care for themselves, for their families, and then be able to give to those around them. He blesses the faithful with the ability to also bless the poor and needy, the widows and fatherless, and those who are unable to care for themselves. In this way, we have opportunities to grow spiritually from experiences where we are His hands. Through these actions, our testimonies can be strengthened and we can come closer to Christ.

Ruth Chapter 3

Ruth was a young Moabite widow, who had left her family and home, to care for her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. In caring for her, she had gone out to glean from the harvest in the field of a man named Boaz. He had shown kindness to her as she worked in his fields. Boaz was family to Naomi and had the power to redeem them, and so Ruth had been encouraged by Naomi to continue working in his fields.

1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.

In an attempt to allow Ruth to have a better life than that of a poor widow, Naomi came up with a plan of marriage for Ruth. She told Ruth, that Boaz would work with the barley that evening. Naomi told her to prepare herself and secretly go to the threshing floor. When he had lied down for the night, she was to uncover his feet and lay at them, until he told her what she should do. Ruth agreed to do as Naomi had instructed her. Ruth honored her mother-in-law, by her service and her willingness to do all that Naomi asked of her.

6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

Ruth did as she had been told. I think the reason for laying at his feet, was possibly to make a symbolic gesture of service. I’m not sure if this was an Israelite custom, but I believe that any time one placed themselves at the feet of another, it was a sign of their humility. A servant or even a follower, would place themselves at the feet of their master, to show they were willing to serve or follow them. Ruth, was in a humble position at this time. She was bound to her position in Israel, because of the death of her husband and father-in-law. This seems like a plea to Boaz, to care for her, as a master would care for those willing to serve him. Had she done it publicly, there may have been some other outcome, especially seeing as she was a foreigner. Instead, Naomi suggested to do it privately, and the only way to do this, was to do it secretly in the night.

8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until the morning.

Boaz was startled by her, and when he saw that a woman was there, he asked who it was. She told him and asked that he provide for her as her near kinsman, meaning I think, that she asked him to offer her marriage. He called her blessed of the Lord, for her kindness. He told her that he would do all he could for her, because it was known that she was a virtuous woman. He was her near kinsman, but he knew of one who was closer in relation, and he wanted to allow that man the opportunity to do the service of a kinsman to her. If, in the morning, Boaz went to the man and he did not want the responsibility, then Boaz would take care of her as her husband.

14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.
15 Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.
16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.
17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.
18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

Ruth remained with Boaz that night, and she woke early. Boaz asked that she keep her visit to him a secret. He gave her plenty of his harvest of barley and she left with it, to return to Naomi. Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Naomi told her to patiently wait, because Boaz would not rest until he had done what he had promised her.

Boaz continued to show kindness to Ruth. He gave her a kind compliment, when he said that she was known as a virtuous woman. She was known for her standards or values, even being a foreigner in the Israelite land. I think that he was saying to her, that he would be honored to have her as his wife. Ruth and Boaz are examples of kindness, charity, selflessness, service and loyalty. I am grateful for examples such as these, because it shows that while Israel as a whole, may have been repeatedly turning from righteousness and living unworthy of the blessings of the Lord, there were good individuals among them, who were still striving to do good and live righteously. We may live in a time of great wickedness as well, but there is hope for continued blessings from the Lord, because there are still good, righteous people, who are striving to do what is right.

Sharing the Sunshine

I was looking back through some drafts I had written in the past and I saw this one and wondered why I did not finish writing it. I think it may have been because I had a plan in mind for my study already. I am a planner. Sometimes I have an internal struggle with where I expect my study to take me, and where the spirit guides it to go. Right now I am trying to get through the Bible, but really that is a huge goal. And the way I study, it is going to take a while. A long while. So, today I am going to break away from it for just a moment.

There are many places throughout the scriptures, which teach us how we should live as saints. There is one in particular that stuck out to me a while back, because it describes basic principles of living the gospel. In 1 Peter 3:8 we read, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous”. What does this mean to me?

First, The Lord expects us to be unified. We need to be one, whether in our marriages, in our families, at church with other saints, or really anywhere else where we hope to have strength. We need to be working towards the same goal or at the least, walking in the same direction. In Peter’s epistle to the saints of his day, I think he was teaching how they should have been within the church. As saints and members of the church of Jesus Christ, we need to have the same goal in mind. That goal is the same goal of our Father in Heaven. We need to have a goal for the salvation of mankind. Do we desire for others to live with God again, as we desire it for ourselves? Do we knit ourselves together so that we can all reach that goal together? Mosiah 18:21 reads, “And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” When I think of this, I imagine linking arms with the sisters in Relief Society. Knitting requires 2 needles to work. These two needles bring two sides of the work together. The work becomes one whole without separation. We can be one in our purpose when we meet together often as the yarn of our own work, and use our spiritual gifts and talents to link with one another. Then our hearts will become knit together and we will strengthen, enrich, and uplift one another. With that one eye, one faith, and one baptism, we can be strong enough to stand firm in the gospel.

The Lord wants us to have “compassion one of another”. We should care for the temporal and spiritual welfare of others. If one of us suffer, we all suffer. In 1 Corinthians 12:26 we read, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” This makes me think of family life. It is often said that a happy Mom, means a happy home. It is interesting to me, to watch how the attitude of one individual in the home, can determine if we all have a good attitude. Attending to the needs of others, benefits all of us. We should willingly give to the poor and needy. Paying tithes and offerings is one way which we can give to those in need. Also paying closer attention to the lives of others around us, we will be able to see and even discern needs that are there. The instruction given in these latter days can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 52:40, which says, “And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple. (empahsis added)” What else can we do? We can visit those who are alone, such as the widows. President Monson, our prophet today, has given us a great example of being there for the widows. When he was bishop, he made it a point to be there for the many women in his ward, and he remained loyal friends to them for the remainder of their lives. In addition, we can pray for others. As we pray and serve, we will feel deeply for those around us and the welfare of others will effect us in meaningful ways. That is the kind of compassion the Savior has for each of us. Compassion leads us to greater faith and service. It was recently my privilege to serve at a funeral for a gentleman in our church. I enjoyed doing the service, but even greater was the opportunity to watch as many gathered together in compassion one of another. I watched as every detail of the help was done with the upmost in care and consideration for what those in mourning would need. There was an incredible outpouring of love, even in the simplest things. This kind of compassion is so beautiful and is one of the best ways we can show the light of Christ to others.

Compassion leads to charity, the pure love of Christ. Disciples of Christ should love each other as brothers and sisters. The love I have for my siblings causes my mind to be focused on them often. I want them to have true happiness and joy. I want them to have peaceful family lives. I care deeply for how they are doing, even though I am far from all of them. We should love one another, whether our actual kin or not, with the desire to remain brothers and sisters in the eternities. Having a love like this will help us to fellowship one another continually. In Doctrine and Covenants 38:24, the instruction for us is to “let every man esteem his brother as himself…”. The Savior taught by example in this. In John 15:13, He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He loved all people with the brotherly love, and He showed us that love, by giving His life for us.

To be pitiful is to be full of “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others“. Followers of Christ should be tender hearted and compassionate. It is our duty to take on one another’s pains and burdens, or to make them lighter in whatever ways we can. We should be sensitive to others and easily moved to love when we see others in need. This epistle of Peter does not teach us to have a little pity for others, but to be full of it. Our hearts should be filled with care and concern for others who are having any kind of difficulties in life.

Finally, we are taught to be courteous to one another. Show others the honor and respect they deserve as children of God. Be genuinely polite to others. A difficult, but important way to remain courteous, is to refrain from gossiping. Our comments of others, should always be positive and uplifting. Showing others the kind of respect you would want them to give to you.

Being of one mind, having compassion one of another, loving as brethren (and sisters), being pitiful, and being courteous come with ease and grace when we have the light of the gospel active in our lives. A song which goes right along with this is “You Can Make the Pathway Bright”. I love the words, and often think of them in the mornings as I prepare for the day ahead.

You can make the pathway bright,
Fill the soul with heaven’s light,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Turning darkness into day,
As the shadows fly away,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

I have experienced darkness in my own heart at times. There are many who suffer from deep depressions, feelings of hopelessness and much more. We can help them, by sharing our sunshine, which is the light of Christ in each of us.

You can speak the gentle word
To the heart with anger stirred,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Tho it seems a little thing,
It will heaven’s blessings bring,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

There is so much power in kind words. Responding to others’ negativity in kind, does nothing to help any situation. If we choose to share our light with kindness, cold hearts will warm and hard hearts will soften.

You can do a kindly deed
To your neighbor in his need,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
And his burden you will share
As you lift his load of care,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

Thinking outside of our own lives is the key. When we serve others in need, we share the light of Christ. Small acts of kindness are not that hard to do if we just pay attention to others around us. Opportunities to serve are all around us.

You can live a happy life
In this world of toil and strife,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
And your soul will glow with love
From the perfect Light above,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

We will be happier, others around us will be happier, and life will seem easier, when we live and share the gospel light with others. Why? Because it is His light, the light of Christ. Everyone loves to have a little more sunshine in their life. I know I do. I hope that I can be less selfish and less focused on those things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things, so that I can serve Christ by sharing His gift that has blessed my life so much. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Leviticus Chapter 19

The book of Leviticus has been a book of instruction and commandment for the covenant people of the Lord. Since living among a nation, such as Egypt, many false traditions and customs would have been deeply set in the lifestyle of these people. It was necessary for the Lord to establish His law, which required commandments in all areas of life. These things make up the law of Moses, which the people were expected to live in order to receive the promised blessings of Abraham. This chapter begins:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

God is holy. In the Bible Dictionary, under Holiness we read, “a holy person meant one who held a sacred office. The Israelites were a holy people because they stood in a special relationship to Jehovah. Under the guidance of the Prophets it was seen that what distinguished Jehovah from the gods of the heathen was His personal character. The word holy therefore came to refer to moral character.” The Israelites were commanded to be holy, because they were to stand apart from the world and live high moral standards, as God lives. Latter-day revelation commands us to do the same. Doctrine and Covenants 82:14 we read, “For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” Holiness is not perfection. This is a specific call to become more holy. Perfection would be holiness in wholeness. We are commanded to become a people of greater moral character. We are to be continually working on that special relationship we have with the Lord. That means we start each day with the desire and drive to return to the Lord and live as he would have us live. This is how we keep this commandment.

3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

Often times the word fear means to reverence. In this case, a man was to treat his parents with reverence and respect at all times. The Israelites were to keep the sabbath and to remember that He was their God. The Lord was the reason they were who they were, and living how they were living. He is the reason we are as well. Many don’t realize this, but He the Lord of all. Those of us who have been taught this, are expected to keep it in our hearts and minds. The sabbath is His hallowed day and we should remember that as well.

4 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.

There was to be no idolatry or worshipping of other gods. In 2 Nephi 9:37 we read, “Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.” It makes Satan pleased, when he can draw our attention away from the true source of joy and happiness, which is Jesus Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants 1:16 it says, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” There are many things which we make into idols in our lives and all of them will fail us and lead us to the destruction of our souls, if we allow them the opportunity. This is why the scriptures teach us to watch and pray always. The Lord was the one and only God of the Israelites, as he is the one true God today and the one whom we should worship.

5 And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will.
6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.
7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted.
8 Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

The Israelites were commanded to only give of peace offerings by their own will. Sacrifices that were unwillingly giving, were in vain. Moroni 7:6 says, “. . . for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.” If we willingly give our own sacrifices today, such as a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we show the Lord that we want to be obedient are devoted to Him. The Israelites were to partake of the peace offering on the same day or the following, but not on the third day. Anything that was left, was to be burnt. It was a sin to eat it after the second day and was no longer a sacred offering with the Lord. Any who went against this commandment was to be cut off, or excommunicated from the church.

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to leave the outskirts and gleaning of their fields to those who were poor or a stranger. I am sure that if they followed this commandment, they would have enough for their own needs through the blessings of the Lord. This was a commandment, that teaches us it is not good to be selfish, but that it is good to help those in need. If we follow this same principle with our own belongings, the Lord will provide for our needs as well. We should be willing to give of those things that are on the outer portion of our own field, so that others in need may have more.

11 Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.

They were commanded that they should not steal, cheat or lie to each other.

12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

No one was to take the name of the Lord in vain, either to swear by it or to profane or defile it in any way.

13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

They were not to commit any kind of fraud to one another, or to rob each other. When something was due to another, it was to be paid right away. It is not acceptable for any person to take advantage of another or to deny them of what they are owed.

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The Israelites were commanded kindness to those who were handicapped with deafness or blindness. They were to respect God. Respect to God, would cause one to extend that kindness and not to block the way of others. This goes for all those who are struggling when we are not, either physically or spiritually. When we know someone is in darkness or cannot hear what they need to hear, it is our responsibility to help them find their way and not to do things which would cause them to stumble or fall. This is a commandment for us to be a people of compassion.

15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

Judgment was to be righteous and just. I like that it points out both the poor and the mighty, because it can go both ways. There is no place for favoritism in judgment, but all are to be treated the same in this.

16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord.

They were commanded not to be the bearer of tales, or gossip. I think that when it says not to stand against the blood of their neighbor, that it means to do anything against, or in opposition to, them or their family.

17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

A commandment was given, that they should not hate their brother. They were commanded to give wise rebuke, so that another would not suffer sin. I think this might be like constructive criticism, to help another to avoid mistakes of iniquity. The footnote at the beginning of this verse reads, “Though you may reprove a neighbor and not tolerate his sin, do not hate him.” If we look at it this way, it says that we should not hate those around us for their sins, but we do not need to tolerate their sin. We live in a world today, where people think that if we abhor a sin, we must hate the individual. This is not the case. I hate when my children lie to me. I think it is awful and I will not hesitate to reprove them when they do it. All the while, I love my children unconditionally. The commandment is for us to behave this way with all people. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 we read, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”. We cannot stand by and allow sin to destroy those around us without doing what we can to help when prompted to do so, but we must do these things with a heart full of love towards them.

18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

The Israelites were commanded not to avenge wrongs or hold a grudge against another. They were commanded instead, to love their neighbor as themselves. The people of God have always been commanded to be a loving and charitable people. In 2 Nephi 26:30 we read, “. . . wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. . .” We too have been given this commandment, which we can find in Doctrine and Covenants 59:6 where it says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” and likewise in Doctrine and Covenants 88:125 which reads, “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” If we love others as we love ourselves, I believe we will find it much easier to keep the other commandments of God.

19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

In all things, the Israelites were to keep the commandments, which were many by this point. The things of their lives were to be kept pure. Cattle and seeds were not to be mixed breeds. The clothes they wore were to be a single material, such as entirely cotton or entirely wool. This would insure that all things were in harmony with one another.

20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.
21 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering.
22 And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.

I think this means that a bonded woman who had relations with a man other than her betrothed, such as the man to whom she was bonded, was not to be put to death, rather because she was not a free woman, she was to be questioned. The footnote for being scourged says, “there shall be an investigation or inquisition.” The man of this act, was to bring a trespass offering to the tabernacle and have an atonement made for his sin. Then he was to be forgiven.

23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal.
25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded, that when they first planted fruit trees, they were not to partake of its fruit for the first three years. In the forth year it was holy fruit, probably to be given to the purposes of the Lord. In the fifth year, it was to be that person’s fruit to have as an increase.

26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

There was to be no eating of blood. Enchantments and observing times, or any kind of sorcery, were forbidden. The footnote for rounding the corners reads, “by cutting the forelocks of the hair of the head.” They were not to make themselves bald or shave their beards. Scarring or marking their skin as a sign of mourning, was also forbidden. These things were probably common at that time. Some of these were rites of those who worshipped other gods or who wished to draw unnecessary attention to themselves, rather than worship the Lord.

29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

Prostitution of their daughters was forbidden. If they practice these acts, the land was sure to become full of it and other acts of sexual promiscuity and obscenities.

30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

The sabbath was to be kept holy and the sanctuary of the Lord was to be reverenced.

31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.

They were forbidden to participate in wizardry, superstitions, or with those who claimed to speak with the dead. The footnote for this verse reads, “Do not turn to magic or necromancy.” It says to be defiled by them, which I think is a way of saying to be taken by their trickery. In my current study of history, it seems that many of the kings and other leaders had taken to having magicians and turning to those who said they could predict futures and speak with the dead, in order to make decisions for their people. This was sure to lead people to following after evil and eventual destruction.

32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The footnote for this verse says, They should “rise before the face of old age.” It was to be an honor, to have a head of gray hair. They were to honor their elders, especially their parents. Again, they were commanded to respect God.

33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to treat strangers with love as they would one of their own family, or a citizen of their land. They had been strangers once in Egypt, and when they were initially taken in, they were loved and treated kindly. The Israelites were not to oppress the stranger, the way that they were eventually oppressed in Egypt by the later rulers.

35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.

All judgment was to be righteous in all things, including measures. Because the Lord delivered them with righteous judgment, they were to obey Him and follow His laws.

It seems as though the Lord needed to give a reminder often that He was the one responsible for these commandments. The footnote in v. 14 for the phrase ‘I am the Lord’ says, “Note that this phrase occurs fifteen times like a seal of authority upon each of these statutes.” The things around us may have changed since these laws were given, but we are still expected to remember the Lord and remember the commandments he has given. I think that if we can remember the Lord and that the commandments are His and not from men, we will be able to follow them with exactness.

I think this phrase, in it’s repetition, also reminds us to turn to the Lord when we struggle with these things. When we have trouble honoring our parents, remember the Lord and He will help us. If we don’t know quite how to keep the sabbath, the Lord can help us. If we are having trouble putting other things before the Lord, he will forgive us and give us strength. If we find giving to the needy to be difficult, or don’t know where to begin, the Lord will guide us. If we find ourselves gossiping or using unkind words, we can turn to the Lord for courage to be better. If we struggle with anger, resentment, or thoughts of revenge, the Lord will be there to calm our troubled hearts and show us how to forgive. The Lord has not placed us here to fail. He knows that we will have hardships when it comes to keeping all His commandments. Can we imagine that God would ask us to do something, and then refuse to help us to accomplish that thing? If we do, we do not see God as the loving parent He is.

It is a blessing to have commandments and direction from the Lord, to help us stand apart from the worldliness around us. It is a blessing to know that He is there for us every step of the way. We can be a holy people because He promises that perfection is in our future if that is our desire.

Notes on Patience – A Christ-like Quality

Patience is something that is tested in my life every day, as I am sure it is for most of us. I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea for me to begin a study that was a bit more in depth so that I could know how to gain a self-mastery that I do not have right now. I hope that my readers will enjoy following this series of posts on patience and that it may help someone else out there, as much as it has helped me. To see more posts, check out Notes on Patience

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

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; (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers. (Alma 9:26)

But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; (Alma 13:28)

34 And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.
35 Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Helaman 3:34-35)

Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God. (3 Nephi 6:13)

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

47 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. (Moroni 7:45, 47)

  • Patience is one of the virtues that will lead to a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, because it is a virtue that he has had in greater quantity, than any other person. It is among his other great attributes like faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. It is a part of the pure love of Christ, which is charity. Patience is about time. Patience is allowing the time for the Lord and his atonement to work in my life. It is also about humility and repentance. It is giving opportunities for our Savior to refine me and make me into the person that he knows I have the potential to be. A life that is abundant in Christ-like qualities, is a life spent coming unto Christ.
  • Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 6

    (To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

    To continue the study of the attributes of God:

    7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
    8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

    These verses from 1 John 4, are about God being loving. God is caring and kind. In Isaiah 63:7 it is written as, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.” And again in Jeremiah 31:3 we read, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” There is no greater love than the love that God has for us. We learn of this love also in John 3:16, which reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This was the ultimate sacrifice, which is evidence of God’s love for us. We can strive for that kind of love and the potential of having god-like love, by willing making sacrifices for others during our mortal lives. Sacrifices show that we are willing to put the well-being and happiness of others above our own selfish desires.

    In addition, God shows his love by helping us to see the error of our ways. In Doctrine and Covenants 95:1 we read, “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you—”. The love of God, requires those loved to be chastened in order to become better and be kept safe. We show a greater and more god-like love, when we work to keep our loved ones safe from the destruction that Satan brings. It is important that we put aside the ways of the world (which would teach us not to say or do anything, and just watch our loved ones destroy themselves) and remember our duty to bring those who have strayed back to the way of the Lord, through loving persuasion and kindness.

    One of the qualities that I hear of most as an attribute we should have is being charitable, which is the purest form of love. In 2 Nephi 26:30, we read, “Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.” To become like God, we need to develop our own charity. Charity, is having a heart full of love towards others. In 4 Nephi 1:15, after the Savior had left the Nephites, we read, “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” Striving to live in a way where we do not cause contention because we have such a great love for others, will bring us closer to our godly potential.

    Going right along with love, God helps us. In Psalms 54:4 we read, “Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” God does not love us from afar, but rather, is there to help those who allow Him into their lives. I cannot count the number of times that I have felt the help of God in my life. He is there both in the hard times of my life, as well as the good. We can work on this potential of being the greatest helper, by being an instrument in His hands now. When we have the gift of the Holy Ghost, as are living our best, inspiration will come to us as to how we can help others around us. God gives us many opportunities to love and serve His children. We cannot reach our potential, if we choose not to follow the promptings He gives us.

    (Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 7)

    To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

    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.

    The Love of Christ

    I’m sorry to all of my readers who may have been waiting for a new post, but this last week was a bit crazy. First of all, I have a new calling at church as of the beginning of April which has me doing a lot of study and prep outside of my planned personal study. I am now teaching Sunday School for the 13-14 years olds. It is a bit of a challenge for me and until I can get a system figured out, I will most likely be posting one (maybe two) time(s) a week. In addition to that, I gave a talk yesterday, which had me super busy. I figured I would post it, seeing as how this made up a lot of my study this last week.

    I get asked all the time about what made us decide to move to Idaho, and to Meridian specifically, so I figured I’d tell our story. In the summer of 2010, we visited my best friend who lived in Kuna, Idaho at the time. Then a few months later, my husband told me he had the feeling we needed to move to Idaho. Even though I was sure I was a California girl and that we would never leave, the spirit confirmed to me immediately that it was where we were supposed to be. We decided that our girls and I would move up after the school year and live with my best friend’s family while we saved up some money. So last June, we left our families and headed up here. Meanwhile, my husband stayed there to work and help his parents fix up their rental home. In August, the girls and I moved with my friend’s family from Kuna to Meridian. A few weeks later, a sister in our new ward called to say that she woke up that morning with the inspiration to tell me about a job opening possibly for my husband, whom she didn’t even know. She had already called the business and they had told her they were already down to their final choices, and weren’t looking for any new applicants. She told me that she felt like he should send in his resume anyway, which he did and by the end of the day they were in contact with him. He got the job and was able to join us at the end of October, which was two months before he was planning on coming. In addition, we were blessed to be able to buy our own place and move into it this February. This past year and a half has been a challenge for us, but through it all we could not help but see the Lord’s hand in our life and feel the great love he has for us.

    The topic I was given was the love of Christ. I love the songs in the Children’s Song Book. One of those songs is “I Feel My Savior’s Love”, which says the following:

    I feel my Savior’s love in all the world around me. His Spirit warms my soul through everything I see. I feel my Savior’s love; its gentleness enfolds me, and when I kneel to pray, my heart is filled with peace. I feel my Savior’s love and know that he will bless me. I offer him my heart; my shepherd he will be. I’ll share my Savior’s love by serving others freely. In serving I am blessed. In giving I receive. He knows I will follow him, give all my life to him. I feel my Savior’s love, the love he freely gives me.

    Everything that Christ has ever done has been because of His love for us and for our Father in Heaven. His love was displayed as he helped to create this beautiful world we live in. His love was shown throughout the years before he came to earth, as he preserved and guided the children of Israel. We have great examples of His love from the records of his ministry in the old world. We read what the Savior said of himself in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His love was made perfect or complete, as he gave the greatest sacrifice ever given for mankind, the atonement. This perfect love has been shared since His resurrection, as he has visited with His many people, including the Nephites who were blessed and ministered to personally by Him. It was shown to a young boy of 14, who had a desire to know what was true, and was given the amazing opportunity to restore His church upon the earth. He continues to give us of His love even today.

    The love of Christ, is truly a perfect, whole, complete and pure love. The greatest thing about it, is that he gives is freely to us, so that we may choose to receive it. Once we receive his love, we have the opportunity and duty to share it with others. The Bible Dictionary teaches us about the love of Christ. It says that “The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, [which is] not merely affection [is] the pure love of Christ”, and we commonly refer to it as charity. We have been given a commandment, which we read in 2 Nephi 26:30, “the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love.” Elder C. Max Caldwell gave a talk in the October 1992 conference, in which he said the following:

    The phrase “love of Christ” might have meaning in three dimensions:
    [First] 1. Love for Christ
    [Second] 2. Love from Christ
    [Third] 3. Love like 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. . . .

    When we accept Christ into our lives, do we live in a way that shows him we are grateful for all that he has done for us? He gives us His love at all times, but I wonder how often I only show gratitude to Him when things are going well. When things are good, its easy to feel the love and have love in return. I tried something a few years ago, that ended up being a really good experience for me. I wanted to keep a gratitude journal of sorts, but I decided that instead of writing down the things that I could immediately recognize as blessings I was grateful for, I would think about those things that seemed like trials and difficulties. I would only write why I was grateful for those things in my life. It really caused me to recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in my life that had been easy to overlook. Through this experience, I was able to feel a greater love towards my Savior on a regular basis. If we take the time to recognize our love for Christ more often, the way we live will reflect that.

    The second meaning that Elder Caldwell spoke of was love from Christ. The Savior has given us his love. His hands are outstretched to us and it is up to us to accept Him and allow the power of his love to act in our lives. In Alma 19:36 we read, “And thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name.” The power of his love, is made possible through his atonement, which will not do us any good without our choice to receive it. We choose to receive it by willingly obeying the commandments, being worthy of the atonement, and then applying it. If we allow the love of Christ to sanctify us, we will be better prepared to share His love with others.

    The third meaning that Elder Caldwell shared was love like Christ. I think that this is the way that the love of Christ is able to be accepted by people, everywhere, no matter what they believe. We love like Christ by living how he lived. His life cannot be described accurately without the word love. How then, should we live? Christ ministered to, blessed and healed those who were in need. One of my favorite examples of this, is when he was with the Nephites. In 3 Nephi 17:5-7 we read the following:

    5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
    6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
    7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

    To love like Christ, we should be willing to recognize the needs of others and help in whatever ways we can.

    Christ helped others, no matter who they were. One example is when he sat to eat with the publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:10-13). When the Pharisees asked his disciples why he would do this, Jesus explained that he needed to be among those who needed him most. It is easy to serve those who we associate with most often, but is that truly where we are needed the most? Do we choose not to help people because of who they are?

    Christ allowed others to serve him, as he did the woman who came to him and washed his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them and anointed them (see Luke 7:36-50). It did not matter who she was, he let her do this thing, to demonstrate his love for her. We love like Christ, when we graciously and willingly accept the service that is done for us.

    He mourned with those who mourned and comforted those who needed comfort. When Lazarus had died and his sister Mary wept for him, it says that the Savior “groaned in the spirit” and he wept (see John 11). We can show others the love of Christ, when we are there for them in times of loss and heartache.

    He taught the gospel to all who would listen, and was a witness of His Father at all times. When I think of how we can share the love of Christ with others when we share the gospel, I am reminded of how many return missionaries I have heard talk of how much they loved the people they served and shared the gospel with.

    Christ bore all of our burdens of sin, guilt, sorrow, sadness, pain, and more, as he suffered the atonement. We learn from Alma in Mosiah 18, that part of the covenant of baptism is that we are willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light. We may not be able to take away the pain of another, but there are plenty of things we can do. I have been helped by the smallest things in my times of need – a smile, a hug, help with my girls, even a note of encouragement. These things have all helped me to feel like my own burdens were lighter.

    He gave everything he had to give, even his life, for others. In 1 John 3:16 we read, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We are probably not going to be expected to lay down our lives for another, but we need to have the attitude of giving all that we can to save another, physically or spiritually.

    Christ showed his love when he forgave those who wronged him. Even in his final hours he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)” We love like Christ, when we fully forgive others for the things they do against us, even if they are not sorry for it.

    We love like Christ when we are willing to follow his teachings. In the sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5:39-40, we read the following:

    39 . . . whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

    Then, in verses 44-45 he goes on to teach the following:

    44 . . . Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    I found a story relating to this. The Prophet Joseph Smith had taught the early saints that they should “love others, even our enemies as well as friends.” One of those who heard this had had his own experience with this lesson, which President Howard W. Hunter shared in the April Conference of 1992. He said the following:

    After his father became ill, Vern Crowley took responsibility for running the family wrecking yard although he was only fifteen years of age. Some customers occasionally took unfair advantage of the young man, and parts were disappearing from the lot overnight. Vern was angry and vowed to catch someone and make an example of him. Vengeance would be his.

    Just after his father had started to recover from his illness, Vern was making his rounds of the yard one night at closing time. It was nearly dark. In a distant corner of the property, he caught sight of someone carrying a large piece of machinery toward the back fence. He ran like a champion athlete and caught the young thief. His first thought was to take out his frustrations with his fists and then drag the boy to the front office and call the police. His heart was full of anger and vengeance. He had caught his thief, and he intended to get his just dues.

    Out of nowhere, Vern’s father came along, put his weak and infirm hand on his son’s shoulder, and said, “I see you’re a bit upset, Vern. Can I handle this?” He then walked over to the young would-be thief and put his arm around his shoulder, looked him in the eye for a moment, and said, “Son, tell me, why are you doing this? Why were you trying to steal that transmission?” Then Mr. Crowley started walking toward the office with his arm around the boy, asking questions about the young man’s car problems as they walked. By the time they had arrived at the office, the father said, “Well, I think your clutch is gone and that’s causing your problem.”

    In the meantime, Vern was fuming. “Who cares about his clutch?” he thought. “Let’s call the police and get this over with.” But his father just kept talking. “Vern, get him a clutch. Get him a throwout bearing, too. And get him a pressure plate. That should take care of it.” The father handed all of the parts to the young man who had attempted robbery and said, “Take these. And here’s the transmission, too. You don’t have to steal, young man. Just ask for it. There’s a way out of every problem. People are willing to help.”

    Brother Vern Crowley said he learned an everlasting lesson in love that day. The young man came back to the lot often. Voluntarily, month by month, he paid for all of the parts Vic Crowley had given him, including the transmission. During those visits he asked Vern why his dad was the way he was and why he did what he did. Vern told him something of their Latter-day Saint beliefs and how much his father loved the Lord and loved people. Eventually the would-be thief was baptized. Vern later said, “It’s hard now to describe the feelings I had and what I went through in that experience. I, too, was young. I had caught my crook. I was going to extract the utmost penalty. But my father taught me a different way.”

    We love like Christ, when we choose a different way, a better way, Christ’s way.

    The Savior showed his love for God, as he was obedient to every commandment he was given. He has given us commandments as well and we can love like Christ by following them. In John 13:34 we read, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

    President Hunter said,

    The world in which we live, whether close to home or far away, needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides the only way the world will ever know peace. We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us.
    . . . Those who are filled with the love of Christ do not seek to force others to do better; they inspire others to do better, indeed inspire them to the pursuit of God.

    As followers of Christ and people who covenant to take his name upon us through baptism, we have a duty to have a love for Christ, accept the love of Christ, and then to love like Christ. I have been so blessed to recognize the love of Christ in my own life. I am so grateful for those people who have shared it with me. It seems like every time I have noticed that I am loved by the Lord, has been when someone has been inspired to do something for me or my family. I know that their is power in our sharing His love with others.

    A Charge From the Book of Mormon

    In preparation for our Relief Society lesson this week, I read the Ensign article titled “A Witness“, by President Henry B. Eyring. This talk is a really good one about the charge that every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been given. We find this charge in the words of the Book of Mormon. The charge has to do with being a charitable witness who endures to the end. The two ideas I am taking away from this article are first, we each have a way that is fitting for us to show our charity for others. I believe that charity, in its purest form is how we show the love and care we have for others. Not all of us do this the same way, but we have each been blessed with the ability to have charity. I think that I’ve always thought there was an exact way that everyone was to be charitable, but I am now thinking that it really can and probably should be different for each of us. Part of the learning process in this life, is figuring out how we as individuals can be more like the Savior in our own charity for others. Now is the time to discover how I can use the gifts and talents that have been given to me, to be charitable to others.

    The second idea, is that we need to be ready each day to do the work of the Lord. This requires having a prayer in our heart and mind as much as possible, that we will be ready and willing to do the will of the Lord. It means being worthy at all times, so that we can hear the whisperings of the spirit. It means getting out of bed each day and getting dressed and prepared to do something, even if we don’t have anything planned. It means recognizing the needs of others around us and more. It is a charge to be alert, attentive, willing, and able to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, at all times. This is something that I feel I fall short in most days of my life, but we all have things we need to work on, and this is one of mine. I am grateful for the messages of the general authorities of the church, specifically the apostles and prophets of the Lord. Their words offer me great insight and encouragement in my own life. It is such a blessing to live in a time when these words are so readily available to all people. I hope that I will remember these things and try harder to have more charity and be ready to do the Lord’s work more often.


    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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