February 21, 2011

Charity Never Faileth

I spoke in church a couple of weeks ago. This is what I said… minus my awesome introduction.

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The life of the Savior reflects the love that he had for all mankind, and the Lord has commanded that all men should have charity.

But what does that really mean? When we hear the word “charity” many of us think of service. We think of donations. We think of charity in the terms of men, and not in the terms of the Lord.

In Moroni 7:45 we read:
And acharity suffereth long, and is bkind, and cenvieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily dprovoked, 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.
Christ’s life reflects a truly charitable spirit.

He hopes with us.

He bears with us.

He rejoices when we rejoice,

And He endures with us, even so much so that He willingly gave His life for us.

Brothers and sisters, true charity NEVER fails.

If you’re anything at all like me, you hear the words of the gospel teachings, and you ask yourself, but what does that mean?

Charity is the pure love of Christ.

Great!  But got it!

But why is that the answer, and what does it really mean?

To find the answer, we have to break it down, and focus on the love of Christ, which we can break down even further and look at it in three different ways:

1. The love FOR Christ
2. The love FROM Christ
3. The love LIKE Christ

So let’s take a look at the love FOR Christ. To truly love someone, you have to know them. To know Christ, we need to study his life and his teachings. We need to look at the lessons he has given us and apply them in our own lives.

I am sure that all of us have a favorite story of Christ. Personally, my favorite thing about Christ was his storytelling abilities. I love that he taught the gospel using parables, because in doing so, He gives us so much room for growth.

My favorite primary song is The Wise Man and The Foolish Man. It’s a rousing song, it’s fun to sing, and there’s ACTIONS. And as a person who is having a really hard time speaking to you without waving her hands around right now, you should know, that I really like anything that has ACTIONS.

Anyways, I was in the kitchen one day making dinner, and my kids were being kids. They were running around, playing games, and singing…
The Wise Men Built His House Upon a Rock,
the Wise Man Built his house upon a rock…

And I hadn’t been paying attention to much of anything, when it HIT me. What that song was really about. The difference between the wise man and the foolish man wasn’t education. It was understanding.

In a moment of clarity, I finally heard the MESSAGE behind the words that I’ve been singing for over two decades. In that moment, I understood the importance of teaching my children about Christ, and why it is important to give them a firm foundation for their life.

I had an overwhelming love for my Saviour in that moment, because he knew that I had been struggling with balancing all the good parts of my life, and in the simple words of a Primary song, I had my answer.

The second part is the love FROM Christ.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we hear often how much God loves us. We hear it so much, and so often, that it is easy to take it for granted, and it is so easy to forget.

We get caught up in the day to day minutia of life. We begin to compare ourselves to others, and we lose sight of the good parts.

Every. Good. Thing. In our life is BECAUSE of Him and His love for us. We should pray daily for help to discover and recognize his love. It won’t always be easy to recognize his love because Christ never promised a life free from heartache and sorrow.

It is through our trials that we learn to receive his love in all things.

It is through those trials that our hearts are softened and we are better able to comprehend the extent of his love and care for us.

God does not forget about us. He does not ignore our pleadings to him.

There are times in our lives, when we are not ready to hear the answers he gives.

It is important to remember that he does not answer with thunder and lightning. He often answers in the quiet recesses of our hearts. He answers in the unexpected email or text message from a friend. He answers though the innocence of children, the stumbled upon news article, or the chance encounter with the grocery store clerk.

You may pray for understanding, but it not until you open your heart to recognize His love, that you will truly see what his answer is.

When the Lord does take the time to answer our prayers, we need to receive his answer in love and humility. Don’t just thank him for the blessings you enjoy. Jesus’ love for us does not change according to our actions, and our love for Him should not change according to circumstance.

Know that God loves you, and that he wants you to feel his love continually each day. As you pray to him, and grow closer in your relationship with God, you will find an intimate and sacred relationship that is built on trust. You will begin to know that he understands your anguish, and has compassion for you. We need to let our trials strengthen and sustain us. We need to open our hearts, and let Him love us.

Thirdly, the love LIKE Christ.

Jesus Christ was a perfect example of charity.

Unfortunately, no one here is perfect. We all have failings, we all make mistakes, we all have things that we can improve upon.

Because of our own imperfections, it is not our place to decide who deserves our love, our help, our friendship, or our understanding.

Some of us have more obvious imperfections than others. And when you are focused on finding those imperfections, than yes, they will become glaringly obvious.

As LDS members, we are required to seek after the lovely. We are commanded to find the virtuous and the praiseworthy. We are instructed to seek after the good things.

Our homes need to be a haven from the storms of life. We need to be loyal to our families, and reinforce the positive.

Family Home Evenings should be used as a tool for communication and teaching, and not as an opportunity to judge.

Recently, I have begun working with LDS artist Liz Lemon Swindle. She approached us with one very simple objective in mind: that every Christian home should have a picture of Christ prominently displayed.

As members of the LDS church, we are taught that:
A house is a place where people live in peace and happiness. A house can be a cave, a cottage, a tent, a palace, a cabin, or a hogan. The size or beauty of a building does not make it a home; happy people make a home.

Each of us should create a feeling in our home that will inspire our family. We want our family members to live gospel principles and to make good use of their time and talents. We should provide opportunities for study, recreation, and hobbies in our homes. Then family members will want to be at home and will be less likely to seek activities elsewhere.

And this is so true.

Children are a direct product of their environment.

The things they learn within the walls of our homes are the lessons that will carry them throughout their lives. The way we conduct ourselves, how we choose to spend our time, even the artwork displayed on our walls, tell others what our priorities are.

To love like Christ is not just a principle. It is not an attitude or an action.

To love like Christ is to change, from the inside out.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said:
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 and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.
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Then I closed with my wicked awesome testimony that the church is true, amen.