(OH WOW! Where do I even begin to grapple with this world view of mine that was just shattered, so that I can be more in harmony with God!?) For the longest time, I have been reading wrong the latter part of verse 44. (I’ve memorized this set of scritpures twice, TWICE and have frequently referenced this passage of scritpures.) For some reason, I assumed that Charity was a default action or behavior that resulted from meekness and lowliness of heart, and confessing by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ.
When I would read, “he must needs have charity” I assumed this to mean that it was a default or automatic response. Notwithstanding, everything else that Mormon says after that suggests that this is something that must be worked for, and is in no way an automatic result of previous Christ-like actions. That they are connected, true! But here Paul’s great musings on charity from 1 Corinthians 13 has all the more weight, and thus his admonition to avoid becoming as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Suddenly, I have a lot to learn.
(Side Thought: I can also see why Mormon and Moroni were worried about the weakness in their writing, not having the capacity to effectively articulate such an important principle, or wording it in such a way that has caused me to misunderstand this for so many years. At the end of the day though, it’s my own fault for not understanding this.)
Having therefore determined that the development of charity is therefore a choice, I am choosing to develop it. Here’s how it looks:
From Mormon, charity:
- suffereth long
- is kind
- envieth not
- is not puffed up
- seeketh not her own
- is not easily provoked
- thinketh no evil
- rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth
- beareth all things
- believeth all things
- hopeth all things
- endureth all things
This is exemplary behavior for all the right reasons. We are nice to others because we feel love for others.
I’ve compared Mormon’s observations on charity with Paul’s thoughts. And they are so remarkably close together that one would easily be tempted to conclude forgery, if faith and the guidance of the Holy Spirit wasn’t already affirming something more profoundly true. What really impresses me is how close in doctrinal similarities these two bodies of work are, hitting on all the same points regarding charity. Namely, no other spiritual gift is of value without charity, and that all things must fail, but “charity never faileth.” (1 Corinthians 13:8; Moroni 7:46)
This morning I was blessed to see that a discussion of charity is actually just a discussion of the chief characteristic of the Christ. I’ve re-read the list above placing Christ’s name in front of every description of charity.
I am now working through these descriptions of Charity one by one.
Charity Envieth Not
Envy hurts primarily the one who feels it. It doesn’t stop God from doing his work. (The patriarchs sold Joseph into Egypt, see Acts 7:9) Those who envy do not put themselves in a position to inherit eternal life. (There are many inheritances which through stewardship are given to the meek. ) James refers to envy and strife as a type of wisdom that comes from beneath and is contrary to wisdom born of peace. (See James 3:6)
Charity Is Not Puffed Up
It is not arrogant, proud, nor an effort to make one’s self larger than those around them.
A proud person sets himself above those around him and follows his own will rather than God’s will. Conceit, envy, hardheartedness, and haughtiness are also typical of a proud person.Pride, Guide to the Scriptures
Reflecting upon the scriptures that describe pride and its effects. Pride is in complete contradiction to charity. A proud person doesn’t have the capacity to feel charity because it sets them at defiance against others, divisive.
Charity Seeketh Not Her Own
I have always saw this as a reference to avoiding nepotism or nepotistic type behaviors, i.e. giving preference to family members. For the first, I’ve used LDSbot as a clarifier which helped me simply to take of my limited scope view and realize that this simply is saying that charity is not selfish. The Topical Guide puts selfishness on par with greediness and lust. The parallels between lust and selfishness is helpful for me in my self reflection. Charity entertains none of these things. It is not selfish, lustful, or greedy.
Charity Is Not Easily Provoked
Charity is not easily angered. But it is curious to me that this wording allows caveat for prolonged provocation. Indeed we read throughout the scriptures about how a wicked people can provoke God even unto destruction, which knowing that God is not easily provoked suggests that one may dwell a long time in wickedness before being destroyed, not because it was ever acceptable to be wicked, but because of God’s ability to not be easily provoked.
Charity Thinketh No Evil
Charity is the absence of evil thought. What is evil thought? Anything that leads to evil action. This almost requires a personal assessment of any area where thoughts have lead to damaging or hurtful action. I feel like that areas in which this tendency has been most readily manifested are in my relationships to my family members. Unexplainably, from time to time evil motives have been assumed. And it is in the assumption that I fail.
Ideas, concepts, and images in a person’s mind. The power to think is a gift from God, and we are free to choose how we use our power to think. The way we think greatly affects attitudes and behavior, as well as our standing after this life. Righteous thoughts lead to salvation; wicked thoughts lead to damnation.GS – Thoughts
Also associated with this entry are two other topics: agency and pondering. Consequently, I find myself pondering how my thoughts are directly linked to my personal agency. I am free to think whatever I want, but in the discipline of the thoughts (which curiously originate both in the heart and mind) I am able to connect with God. That is the realm in which He communicates with me.
Suddenly, I have a new appreciation for the canvas of the thoughts of my soul (heart and mind). What will I chooses to make of it, considering that this is the space that God most frequently occupies within me.
The other really interesting thing is that I can feed it information that then comes back to my remembrance very easily. So there is a part of it that can be cultivated and frequently is. Sometimes, this is done without our entire awareness of what is being consumed. How does this apply to your own family?
Reading a passage from 1 Chronicles 28, where Solomon receives his commission from his father, David. Subsequently, they are instructed to build the first temple (of which we have record in scripture). Preceding this, Solomon is instructed to be perfect in heart and that the Lord understands the imaginations of his thoughts. I don’t know why this resonates with me except that it feels similar to my present state of being.
Charity Rejoiceth Not in Iniquity
I am pondering what it means to “rejoiceth not in iniquity.” A footnote on 1 Corinthians 13:6, replaces iniquity with unrighteousness or injustice. I am also considering the account found in Acts 8 between Peter and Simon the magician who attempts to buy the Priesthood with money.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.Acts 8:20-23
This entry has multiple footnotes for consideration:
“Thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” – Footnote leads to Doctrine and Covenants 49:2, wherein the Lord (Jesus Christ) teaches missionaries about the state of the hearts of those listening to their message. “they desire to know the truth in part, but not all, for they are not right before me and must needs repent.”
Another footnote later on takes me to the topical guide entry for “Motivations” which is the word that I think I’ve been looking for to define this attribute or aspect of charity. “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3
I’ve spent the morning contemplating the nature of lust, and lusts of the flesh, and also sitting with the literality of the Saviors commandment, which replaced the law of Moses:
27 Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery;
28 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.3 Nephi 12:27-28
So any woman, including my wife, cannot be an object of my lust. This requires me to own my own pro-creativity even more and understand its power.
Thus the following verse in 3 Nephi 12 reads, “Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;” And curiously, this verse points back to Acts 8 where Peter is counseling Simon the magician, which is not an incident of lust, but of greed. But are not the two vices so very similar?
Lust and greed, both born of pride, stand in opposition to righteous motives, and cannot exist in the presence of charity. Or in other words, a charitable heart rejoiceth not in iniquity.
Charity Rejoiceth in the Truth
Contemplating this point, my heart was full brim on Sunday (Father’s Day) when I listened to dear sweet Sister McClintock, who at 80 years old spoke on Father’s day, when in her life she had enjoyed none of the traditional relationships associated with fatherhood. She didn’t have a father figure in her life until at the age of 16, when her mother remarried. Then she had a good role model of a father figure in her step-dad. She and her husband never had children, but she addressed that from multiple angles of faith, both in how through their church service they were blessed to be surrounded by children, and how in the temple, they had found both the answers and the peace that they needed regarding their inability to have children. And here is the truth, and for whatever reason, my heart was brought to rejoice in hearing it on Sunday.
There is a recognition of truth in that the charitable heart receives the truth with joy. Christ, of course, was an example of this, and it seems that frequently he had to correct his disciples for not recognizing truth, in favor of convention, tradition, or sometimes even flattery or other diabolical motive. I think of the woman anointing him with oil or when he would dine with “sinners” or “publicans”.
But how do I use this principle to recognize truth? I was about to “Google it” when instead I used prayer as my internal search feature: Charity equals truth in so far as both are attributes of Christ. Christ rejoices in those who are Christ-like. That sounds a little arrogant and self-reflective, except that Christ did nothing of himself but was in all point subjected to the will of the Father. It could be said that those with a charitable heart rejoice in the Christ, and vice versa, that Christ rejoices in the truth.
I’m reminded of Alma’s declaration of all-things denote that there is a Christ.(see Alma 30:44) Nature, the charitable display of God’s works rejoices in the truth. At Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, he said: “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:14)
And thus this is how the Lord is teaching me that charity rejoiceth in the truth.
Charity Beareth All Things
In prayer, I was brought to consider 1 Nephi 19:9 which reads in part: “wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they aspit upon him, and he suffereth it…”
I was also brought to consider this phrase, “the weight of the sins of the world” which is what Christ literally bore: a great example of bearing all things. A search for that phrase doesn’t turn up any scriptural references, but does bring up other church articles, including a talk about the Atonement of Jesus Christ by Elder Jeffery R. Holland.
Charity Believeth All Things
In prayer, I was brought to consider that “believeth all things” might be better understood as charity believeth all things that are true. Or in other words, charity is without guile. It’s not questioning parts of the truth with skepticism. Charity believes all things which are true. (Tomorrow I can pray for scriptural examples of this, like King Lamoni who believed all the words of Ammon.)
Indeed, King Lamoni is a good example of understanding what this facet of charity looks like. For he says to Ammon, “Yea, I will believe all thy words.” And he did! (see Alma 18:23,40)
Charity Hopeth All Things
“Hoping for all things” has to do with our capacity to give. It’s that we give unrestrained because we hope for the best outcome in any given situation. Jesus Christ, again, is the best example of this because he gave everything with the hope that every one of his Father’s children would receive it.
What is the personal takeaway, or application from my understanding of charity being a hope of all things? Is it not to give as Jesus gives, to give freely without any expectation of return. Rather, it is with the hope that life will be better for another because of what we are giving.
I am try to find another scriptural reference to this way of looking at hope as an outcropping of charity and my studies draw me more towards generosity than hope.
Charity Endureth All Things
With the phrase “endureth all things” and with principles in the gospel such as “enduring to the end”, there is a tendency to feel the need to fake it. Or to endure endless suffering in great misery and sorrow for the “gospel’s sake”. There is a tendency to decouple Charity, the power source, from the action of enduring.
Indeed, without Christ, without the Love of Christ, to endure anything we are amongst all men most miserable. We are being asked to do a work without the energy to do it, which thing seems ludicrous.
On the other hand, one who is filled with charity can be asked to walk through fire, if God requires it. I find it a bit interesting that Abinadi, who suffered death by fire, was the prophet who explain how it was that Christ drew upon the power of love to complete the Atonement.
…Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed…Mosiah 15:10 & 12
For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions.
Christ endured this because of charity.
Verse 46 has provided me with a profound contemplation of eternity. Charity never faileth. All things must fail, but charity will never fail. What does this mean? Every structure of protection, every institution of man, every vehicle and anything that we put our trust and confidence in; it all must fail. But there is one thing that is eternal and that is charity, love. The contemplation that all of the universe, that which is incomprehensible and veiled in darkness, is actually enshrouded in love. This causes me to consider everything differently.
How can charity never fail?
I am nearing the end of this chapter, and what for me has been the most comprehensive study of Charity to date. The biggest take away at the end of the chapter is an even more profound reason to pray. Having understood what charity is; having consider the superiority of this divine attribute above all others; there is only one way in which such a characteristic can be obtained. It is through prayer to the Father, “which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ;”
Charity is the only law that will never fail. Where this chapter ends, this is where prayer begins. And there are volumes yet to be studied which can only be read with the heart in direct communion with the divine.
I don’t know where to go from here. In prayer, I am contemplating viewing all scripture through the lens of charity, especially the gospel accounts of the Savior. Christ is always the embodiment of charity, hence searching his life with an eye of charity would help to better align myself to him.
How do I continue to develop charity? Because charity has to do with relationships and our capacity to hold love for another person, it almost feels like charity should be prayed for on a person by person basis. Whereas I have been praying about charity in the abstract, perhaps the work comes in wrestling with my individual relationships one by one, and in being able to respond to each and every one with a compassionate and charitable attitude.
Additional thoughts that were first recorded on my to-do list:
25 Jun 2023
- Our bodies are the tools that in mortality are being trained to recognize the things that are spirits already understand.
- I am also impressed with two thoughts about marriage one, that it doesn’t matter entirely that much who we are married to, far more important is our commitment to the one that we are married to. second, the marriage covenant and the rights associated with it.
26 Jun 2023 – we’re at 7:45: charity hopes all things
- What is the personal takeaway, or application from my understanding of charity being hope for all things. is it not to give as Jesus gives, to give freely without any expectation of return. rather with the hope that life will be better for another because of what we are giving.