In Acts Chapter 9 we read about a saintly woman named Tabitha. She was a disciple of Jesus Christ and a woman that was “full of good works”. One day she became sick and ultimately passed away. Now all in the town were devastated by this news. Shortly after she died, the disciples had heard that the Apostle Peter was close to the town she lived in, so they sought after him and asked if he could hurry over to help Tabitha.
When Peter came to the upper chamber “all the widows stood by him weeping and showing the coats and garments which Tabitha had made for them”. Peter knelt down and prayed and said, “Tabitha, arise” and she opened her eyes and looked upon Peter. Peter then presented her alive.
What a glorious miracle this was. Tabitha was brought back to life. This is a beautiful and remarkable account, but what was it about Tabitha that caused her to be so important to all the people in the town?
The scriptures record that Tabitha was a true disciple of Jesus Christ and as a disciple, she loved, and served, and blessed the lives of all those around her. Tabitha possessed the great gift of Charity.
Good morning! My name is Amber Baltzer and I currently serve as the Stake Relief Society President of our amazing Huntington Beach Stake. The motto of Relief Society is, “Charity never faileth”. Today I would like to focus my remarks on the gift of Charity and how we can obtain this gift.
In 1st Corinthians Chapter 13, the apostle Paul teaches us about Charity. Paul defines Charity as the pure love of Christ, and explains that it is the most important virtue we can obtain in this life.
So how do we obtain the virtue of Charity? How can we have the pure love of Jesus Christ in our hearts and souls?
As we study the conversion story of Paul, may I suggest that he provides us with steps or the process on how we can obtain the gift of Charity.
We know that in the beginning, Paul’s life certainly lacked Charity, as he was a well known persecutor of those that belonged to the church. However, one day, as he was on his way to seek out and arrest followers of Jesus we read beginning in Acts chapter 9 verse 3:
3 “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a alight from heaven:
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am aJesus whom thou persecutest:”
In these verses we discover the first step in Paul’s process to obtaining Charity. We learn that he “meets” the Savior Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Now most of us will likely not have an experience as dramatic as Paul’s, but it is essential, in order for each of us to obtain Charity that we “meet” the Savior Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Ghost we can all gain a testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ or in other words, “meet” Him. Some of the ways that we can “meet” him are by attending church, reading the holy scriptures, attending the temple, saying our prayers, and living our lives in the same manner as he does. These actions will allow us to feel his love and, like Paul, we will begin the process of us obtaining the gift of Charity.
The next step in the process that Paul shows us continues in verse 6:
“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, awhat wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
In this verse we learn that to obtain Charity we must humble ourselves and ask the Lord, “what would you have me do?”
First is to “meet” the Savior. Next is to ask him what he would want us to do.
The third step or process that Paul teaches is found in verse 8:
“And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.”
In this step or process we learn that Paul acted in faith. Although Paul lost his ability to “see” he still made the decision to walk or move his feet forward, in his case blindly. On the third day of his blindness, he went and met with Ananias. Ananias laid his hands on Paul’s head and blessed him. Paul’s eye sight was restored and he immediately requested to be baptized. From this time forth Paul “straightway went and preached about Christ in the synagogues''. Here we learn that Paul devoted the rest of his life to serving the Lord Jesus Christ by loving and blessing all those he came in contact with.
Based on Paul’s example, we learn how to obtain charity. We must first, “meet” our Savior. Then we must ask the Lord in our minds and hearts the question “what would he have me do?”. Finally, we act in faith upon the promptings that we receive from him, through the Holy Ghost.
I have experienced this in my own life and I have witnessed this in the lives of so many of you here in our beloved Stake family.
Here are just a few examples:
It’s being a true friend. Long live Dennon Walks buddy bench talk from our last Stake Conference. There is nothing more Christ-like or charitable than being a friend who looks out for those who need love. It is an invitation to play handball. It is a kind or heartfelt text message. It is providing a listening ear or a hug to someone who is struggling. This is Charity.
It is serving and lifting where we stand in the various callings or assignments we are given. For example, accepting a calling as a ministering sister, a young womens class secretary, a primary teacher, a building coordinator, a family history consultant, a Relief Society President and the list goes on and on. We act in faith, accepting the call to serve, and then miracles happen. We feel the pure love of Christ for those we serve. This is Charity.
It’s following the prompting to be a good neighbor. It looks like saying hi to a neighbor and taking the time or finding opportunities to get to know them better. A welcome to the neighborhood. An invite to dinner. Bringing your elders quorum and young men to help your neighbor get a tree off her roof. This is Charity.
It looks like serving your community. Cleaning the youth shelter, making Easter baskets for the kids in need, beautifying a local library or park, helping to distribute boxes of food to local food pantries. All of these actions allow you to get to know your community and neighbors. This is Charity.
These are all actions I have seen by you and there are countless more. Thank you for your acts of love and your incredible examples.
In Moroni we read “Wherefore cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all.” Charity never faileth.
We do not love others so that they can be converted to Christ. We love others because we ARE converted to Jesus Christ. As we love others we will become more like our Savior and in that process we will bless the lives of those around us, miracles will happen, and most importantly Christ’s love will be spread throughout this land.
Like Tabitha's example, she sewed coats for the widows. Dennon invited a friend to play handball. Others said hi to their neighbor. These are simple acts, but as we know “through small and simple things are great things brought to pass”.
At the conclusion of my remarks, the youth will all come up to sing a medley. Most of them learned this song at the For the Strength of Youth camp they attended this past summer. When I asked some of the youth what their favorite part of the week's activities at camp were, learning and singing this song was it. They had awesome dances, they had wonderful workshops, they had all you can eat ice cream, yet singing this song was their favorite part. I believe this was their favorite part because of the special spirit they felt while singing a song about service and love, even Charity the greatest of all. As you listen to these precious youth sing I invite you to ask the Lord, “what would he have me do?” I then invite you to act upon the promptings and impressions you receive once you leave this conference. By doing so, you will be richly blessed, but more importantly you will enrich the lives of those you minister and show Charity to.
I love my Savior Jesus Christ with all my heart. I know this is His message. I testify that Charity is the essence of His gospel. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ our Savior has a perfect love for us. And his love never faileth. I know this to be true. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
Given at the Church of Jesus Christ in Huntington Beach.