"Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down,...It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.”1After I read this message, I followed a delightful scripture chain that gave me new insights into that divine attribute that the Savior exemplified so perfectly.
John 13: 34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
With the sound of children's voices singing those tender words echoing in my mind, I began to read 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 where the Apostle Paul expounds on charity. I don't think these passages have spoken to me so powerfully before. Charity - that pure love "exceeds and excels almost all else." Paul teaches me that I can have faith to move mountains, all knowledge and understanding of all mysteries - BUT - if I lack charity - none of that matters. Even the act of giving everything I own to "feed the poor" or "give my body to be burned"..."it profiteth me nothing."
Charity is more than spending hours preparing lessons or donating quilts to the homeless. Charity goes beyond fancy galas and fundraisers and Eagle Scout projects. Charity is more than taking a loaf of bread to a neighbor. Charity is the why - the motivation behind why I prepare the lesson, deliver the bread, ladle the soup or sew the quilt. Charity is the way I greet someone new and my decision to get to know them without judging their appearance. Charity is smiling at someone even though they are making choices I don't agree with. Charity is choosing to not be offended and to choose to be happy for others and with others in their success. Charity is helping others succeed and allowing them to choose their own path. Charity is to look for the best in myself and others and to encourage that best to come forward. Charity involves humility and faith and hope and most of all love. Charity requires self-mastery, temperance, and righteousness.
Romans 13:10 teaches that "love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." The Lord told the Pharisee lawyer that the greatest commandment in the law (meaning the Law of Moses) was to "love the Lord thy God with all thine heart" and to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses - through His great love for us. Making and keeping my covenants and showing my love for Him - by loving others around me fulfills my part.
1 Nephi 11: 21-23 describes the love of God as the most desirable "fruit" of all and the most joyous to the soul.
Alma 32: 41-43 shows me how to develop charity. Look forward with faith. Be diligent. Be patient. "Look forward to the fruit." FOCUS ON ETERNITY!
Everything else may fail, but Christ's love endures forever. He will always love me and always be there for me. People will let me down. Science will continue to change its mind about what is true and what is not true. Seasons change. Disappointments come - and so does joy! Charity will always get me through tight spots and shine light on dark days and make joyful moments even brighter. Being kind and giving the benefit of the doubt may not always result in "butterflies and rainbows" but it will never be the wrong thing to do.
There are so many things I don't know. I can see but a small part of the "big picture." But I am learning that as long as I exercise faith and hope and practice charity I can be assured that everything will work out.
Life is magnificent.