I remember hearing a quote in sunday school years and years ago. I don’t remember the exact source, I just remember the impact it had on me. The teacher was talking about charity and how sometimes we have limited charity that can actually manifest itself with pride – which is a strange thought, because they are polar opposites.
Charity is the pure love of Christ, and I think it will take a lot of prayerful searching to realize what that really means. Pure love is different than the world’s definition of love. It must involve no other motivation except the best for someone – ultimately, the desire that they receive Eternal Life. And I think we can all make a list of people in our lives we really hope will achieve that and we are doing our best to make sure they do. But there are likely others that we don’t feel that burning desire for. So our charity is limited, and I don’t think that is the kind of love that Christ had. One of the daily tests is to feel that kind of love for every person we meet, whether it is in the parking lot, the halls at church, our children’s schools, or on the highway.
Pride elevates itself above others and finds joy in looking down, or resentment if it has to look up. There is no charity there. If we have charity, then we will joy in other’s accomplishments, talents, opportunities… it shows that they are being blessed and progressing – that they are doing what they came to earth to do. So this quote I remember… it talked about how we may have limited charity – we may experience charity for our family – that we want the absolute best for them – but feel hurt, anger or jealousy if others receive those same blessings. Or worse, if they receive the blessing instead of my family. Or, on the other spectrum, I may feel pride because my family got something, and your’s didn’t. Or, if my son didn’t make the team, but your’s did. Or if my husband got the promotion and your’s didn’t. …This is such a dangerous web that can get us at every turn. That is why the commandment isn’t just to get some charity, but to have charity for all men. That is the test. And, that is what will make us truly powerful. It is a great irony that as we seek for more power and ability, our pride takes the reigns, but it is charity that will motiviate us to gain more so we can love better.
I cannot claim to have the pure love of christ when it only benefits me and the people I love the most. But rather, when I can feel it for even those who seek to destroy me. THAT is the challenge, and that will take a lot of repenting and realizations on my end. But Moroni did it. At the end of the Book of Mormon, after all of his people had been killed – he pled for the Lamanites to come unto Christ. He understood something about pride and how it can destroy entire nations. And he understood Charity and he spent a significant amount of his last chapters talking about it. And he qualifies for that right -because he lived it and he gets it. He understood what it means to love your mortal enemy — so what about the people around us everyday? And what about the people who aren’t even our enemy, but for some reason we think that there is a limit to success, and love – and so we make them our competitor? Aren’t they here on earth just as I am, with the same hopes and dreams? And truthfully, the only difference is that I know my family and close friends better than them. So, my charity has nothing at all to do with them – its about me and about how limited I can love. And I better take that seriously, because it seems that charity is one of the great defining characteristics of those that become like Heavenly Father. Our capacity to love is infinite.
Check out these scriptures and quotes:
“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith…” – D&C 121:45
“And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except a man shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of the Father.” – Ether 12:34
“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. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love…” – Moroni 7:47-48
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan by which we can become what children of God are supposed to become. This spotless and perfected state will result from a steady succession of covenants, ordinances, and actions, an accumulation of right choices, and from continuing repentance…. We are challenged to move through a process of conversion toward that status and condition called eternal life. This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason – for the pure love of Christ. The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity (se 1 Cor. 13). The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, ‘the pure love of Christ’ (Moro. 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, The Challenge to Become, Ensign, Nov 2000, 32-34)
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