Updated: Feb 15
What do you think when you hear the word: Charity?
My first thought is the Relief Society Motto: Charity Never Faileth.
When I was growing up, I saw acts of service and kindness from my mother and grandmother in many ways. For example, my grandmother used to help make baby clothes for the Florence Crittenden Home for unwed mothers. My mother did volunteer work in the Assistance League and National Charity League with a variety of service projects. And I was also a member of the National Charity League and that is where I first performed acts of service. (Baking cookies for others doesn’t count…that was just “Normal behavior” in my mind). And if we had workers at the house doing repairs or something, my mother would always offer them some food or something to drink like water. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, I do the same thing. In fact, our IT guy always scheduled his appointments around noon, and I fed him lunch…when we set up appointment time, I asked, do you want a tuna sandwich or a turkey sandwich for lunch, I will have it ready for you. NO worries, I like doing that …. My family calls it my Goodwill Tour. And I do a very nice presentation and send home some extra goodies! That’s just how I roll!
I learned an interesting fact while researching for this talk: the word “Charity” does not appear in a single verse in the Old Testament. Also, “Charity” is only partially explained in the New Testament. But thankfully the Book of Mormon, another witness for Christ, has restored to us an understanding of this eternal precept.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton says:
“CHARITY is, perhaps, in many ways a misunderstood word. We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more.”
“REAL CHARITY is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again.”
“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped.”
“Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness” (except in a tennis match or other athletic competition, we look for the weakness.) “Charity is being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.”
There are a lot of talks on charity with wonderful ideas discussed.
If you look at old copies of the Ensign magazine and look up the Visiting Teacher messages, you will feel the spirit of Relief Society.
“Charity is the heart of the Gospel. We seek to be like our Savior; therefore, learning to love as he loves should be our highest goal. For that reason, “Charity Never Faileth” is the Relief Society motto. It was organized to help women develop and express charity, and to give opportunities to love and serve others.” (Ensign 1988 Visiting Teacher Message).
“Expressing charity, or love, purifies and sanctifies our souls, helping us become more like the savior.”
Defining Charity: The Lord said that Charity is the “pure love of Christ,”
1. that which is “most joyous to the soul”.
2. “the greatest of all the gifts of God”.
3. “perfect” and “everlasting”.
4. As difficult as charity is to describe, it is rather easily recognized in the lives of those who possess it.
In Moroni 7:47, “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.”
In 1st Corinthians:13, Paul talks about Charity as, “a pure love of Christ” … and in verse 13 he says… “faith, hope and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.”
In 2 Nephi 26:30, it says, “the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love.”
As discussed by C. Max Caldwell, that phrase “love of Christ” might have meaning in three areas:
Love for Christ
Love from Christ
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. Sometimes that is difficult to do. How deeply do we love him? Does our love depend on favorable environments? Is it diminished or strengthened by our experiences? Is our love for him evident by our behavior and our attitude? Charity, or love for Christ, sustains us in every need and influences us in every decision.”
“Second concept of charity is Love From Christ. In Ether 12: 33-34, it talks about Faith, hope and charity being essential to salvation. … “And now I know that this LOVE which thou hast had for the children of men is charity.” ….and…. “Except man shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.”
In John 3:16, it says, “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 gift of charity is to be received—Love From Christ. The Savior’s act of redemption for our sins is of no effect without our willingness to comply with the condition of his atonement.”
“A third perception of charity is to possess a Love that is LIKE Christ. In other words, people are the object of Christlike Love. In 2 Nephi 33:7-9, Nephi says: “I have charity for my people….” I have charity for the Jew…. “I have charity for the Gentiles.” Nephi had love for everyone.
“This may make you think of the scripture in John 13:34… “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” …or the hymn, “Love One Another”
“Jesus’ love was inseparably connected to, and resulted from, his life of serving, sacrificing, and giving in behalf of others. We cannot develop Christlike Love except by practicing the process prescribed by the Master.”
“Charity is not just a precept or a principle nor is it just a word to describe actions or attitudes. Rather, it is an internal condition that must be developed and experienced in order to be understood. We are possessors of charity when it is part of our nature. People who have a love for the Savior, have received His love, and love others as He does.”
(Overview of defining Charity):
“Remember, Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another. It is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul. “
“Charity is our love for the Lord, shown through our acts of service, patience, compassion, and understanding for one another.”
“We not only need to love each other more, but we need to love each other better.” (Bonnie D. Parkin, past Relief Society General Presidency)
We love him, because he first loved us.
Remember, Charity Never Faileth.
For this I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.