Monday, December 10, 2012

Talk: Charity The Pure Love of Christ

Charity is one of the most beautiful facets of the gospel.  It is amazingly simple but in order to understand how to live each day with the pure love of Christ emanating from us, we must become passionate about the topic and study our own complex natures so that we can remove behaviors that are not loving and kind.  We can then add in actions,thoughts and deeds that fill others with our shared charity.

As a young woman in high school I was blessed with a very good friend.  We spent a lot of time together as well as with each others families.  My friends name was Celeste and she had a Grandma that lived across the street from her.  We all called her Gram and she was the best kind of wonderful.  Gram could find the good in anybody or in anything.  Gram was a wonderful example to me in giving charity through kind words to everyone.  I could walk into Grams house feigns weighted down by all the pressures and insecurities of a teen age life and 30 minutes later I could emerge knowing I was worthy to experience all the good things in life and that they would all happen.  She had such a wonderful gift, her charity also known as love is still a part of who I am.

Why was Gram so able to see the good in everything?  I know it was because she practiced.  She had endured many hardships in her life, one being loosing her mother at a very young age.  This did not defeat her, it helped her have compassion and empathy.  She truly spent time each day building people up and sharing the pure love of Christ.

Why do we call Charity the pure love of Christ?

The gift of charity comes from the Savior.
Charity is there because Christ is here.
Charity endures into the darkest night through difficult trials and on into the sunshine because Christ does.
God so loves us that he gave his only begotten son, Christ.
Christ loved us so much that his infinite atonement made it possible for us to return back to our heavenly home, and into the presence of God's pure love.  Pure love.  No gall, no bitterness, no scarcest, just warn fuzzy love.

In Moroni 7:45-47. Moroni recorded the words of his father Mormon, who was a very good man and a righteous king.  Mormon promises us that such love, the pure love of Christ is bestowed only upon true followers of Jesus Christ.
Christ loves us and that is how he hopes we will love each other, with a pure, unjudgemental love.

I found a talk by Elaine S. Dalton on Charity.  She gave the talk at BYU Woman's Conference and it is a beautiful Talk.  I am going to share some of it with you.  Here is the link to the full text:

Sister Dalton tells the story of two little girls were born 12 weeks premature. One of the girls weighed two pounds and was struggling with problems ranging from breathing issues and troubling blood-oxygen levels and heart-rate difficulties. Her sister was two pounds, three ounces, and was considered the stronger of the two.
When the twins were a little less than a month old, the smaller of the two girls went into critical condition. Her nurse recounts that “she began gasping for breath, and her face and stick-thin arms and legs turned bluish-gray. Her heart rate was way up. Her parents watched, terrified that she might die.” The nurse did all that she could, and nothing seemed to work. She then remembered a common procedure that was used in parts of Europe that helped struggling premature babies that was called double-bedding. After the parents gave permission, the nurse put the two babies together in one incubator, hoping it would do some good. “No sooner had the door of the incubator closed than [the struggling twin] snuggled up to [her sister]—and calmed right down. Within minutes [her] blood-oxygen readings were the best they had ever been since she was born. And as she dozed, [her sister] wrapped her tiny arm around her small sibling”

I love this true story because I think it is what we can do for others. It is what we, as sisters, can do for each other, what wives can do for husbands, what husbands can do for wives and both can do for their children, and what each of us can do for everyone in the world. We are all God’s precious children; each of us is beloved. We are here to become like Him—to follow His example, the example of His Son, and to become as He is as we do as He does. 

In order to possess true charity, each of us must come to know and understand several things. First is our identity—who we are and who we have always been. The Young Women’s theme is true doctrine: “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.” His love is infinite and eternal. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to make it possible for us to return to Him once again. When we understand our identity, then that understanding defines all of our relationships. As C. S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal”.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal”

Second, we must be pure. Moroni’s final words to each of us in these latter days—a generation he literally saw—exhorted us to “come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing” (Moroni 10:30). His exhortation or warning to us was to be pure and virtuous! He was an eyewitness to what happened to a society who had lost their faith, hope, and charity because they had lost their virtue and purity. Why did he exhort us in this manner? Again, it is part of His message on charity and gaining eternal life and the need to “lay hold upon every good thing ... until the coming of Christ” (Moroni 7: 25). Why? That “when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; ... that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Moroni 7:48). The principle is never changing—purity cannot come from an impure source. Moroni teaches us that “a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water” (Moroni 7:11). Thus, pure love cannot come from an impure source. In order to possess pure love, we must be pure and virtuous! We are developing patterns of thought and behavior, and they must be based on the highest moral standards. And our personal purity in thought and action will entitle us to receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

So that’s third—since charity is a spiritual gift that is bestowed upon us, it comes as a result of the reception of the Holy Ghost. And since the Holy Ghost is given only to members of the Church, it follows that the fruits and gifts of this Spirit are given in their fulness to Church members. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught this principle: “Men [and women] must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost before that member of the Godhead will take up his abode with them and begin the supernal process of distributing his gifts to them....Thus the gifts of the Spirit are for believing, faithful, righteous people; they are reserved for the saints of God” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 370–71).
And fourth, as we make and keep our covenants, the promises those covenants contain will help us become as the Savior and bit by bit, week by week develop the ability to love as He would love, until we will become possessed with charity at the last day. This is a process, not an event. And so we must continually, daily, step by step, keep moving in that direction, always remembering Him and keeping His commandments.

Practicing just like Gram did.

Charity is a spiritual gift that is bestowed from the Father to all who are true followers of His Son, Jesus Christ. The gift of charity comes because of the Savior’s infinite Atonement. It is more than outward actions—more than casseroles and canned-good donations; it is a condition of the heart. This I also know: it is a gift that is earned, sought after, and does not come easily because it is in direct opposition to the natural man or woman. It is bestowed, and it doesn’t come without patience, practice, repentance, and purity—but it comes. President Ezra Taft Benson described the process this way: “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6). Charity can not only transform us; it can transform the world. Imagine what it would be like to live in a society that was constantly striving to possess this heavenly gift. It would be a Zion society! And Zion is the pure in heart—pure hearts, pure people, pure love!

Because I get to serve in Young Woman, I thought this story of a young girl's struggle was very appropriate for todays talk: 

“I came from a family of four. My mother was LDS, but my father was intolerant toward the Mormon Church. There was great discord, many arguments, and much bitterness in our home. My parents quarreled constantly, both verbally and physically.

“We paid a price. At sixteen my older brother had been convicted on a narcotics charge and had been placed in a detention home. I was fourteen and headed down that same road.
“I had been baptized at eight and had always attended Sunday School with my mother. Now, at fourteen, I went to church only to get out of the house and keep peace with my mom.”
Then she said, “I’ll never forget the first Sunday some girls from my Mutual class came around to invite me to Mutual. Four girls! Two of them were cheerleaders at ... school [and] the other two ... I had, of course, seen at church and school and knew were popular and well liked.
And then she said, “How I hated those girls! I hated them because they were everything I wanted to be and couldn’t. I was nothing, I was low-class—I knew it and I knew they knew it, too. I hated them all. I took their crummy little invitation note and smugly lied that I’d be sure to make it out to Mutual. Of course, I never went.”
She said, “This story could have ended there. Those four girls had done their duty at the beginning of the year. I had been personally invited out to Mutual and had refused. What more could they do?
“Fortunately for me,” she said, “the story did not end there. In the months that followed, every Sunday one of those four girls would be at my door with an invitation. But she wouldn’t just drop it off and leave. Each girl would stay and talk to me for at least an hour. At first we would talk about the weather and about Sunday School, which were the only two things I had in common with them, and then we would sit through eternal silences.
“Gradually,” she said, “our conversations became closer. The girls always seemed so eager to listen to my ideas and problems. They never yelled at me or called me names. And yet I was still apprehensive and I still disliked them greatly. I never attended Mutual.
“Time went on, yet those same four girls never gave up. They took a special interest in me. They always said ‘hi’ at school and would stop and talk to me. They sat by me in classes. They found out which subjects I was flunking ... and would invite themselves over to study with me.
“I could not understand it. Why me? They knew the things I did—my reputation. Surely they felt my resentment toward them. Why did they keep on trying? I knew I was a lost cause. I felt pushed and cornered, my own conscience hurting. Still I fought them.”

Then she shares, “December 12 was my birthday. My family never made birthdays special. I got a ‘happy birthday’ from my mom and nothing from my dad, and I went through the school day not letting anyone know I was a year older. I planned on celebrating that night by sneaking out and going over to see some friends.
“At 8:00 that night the doorbell rang. I answered it and there stood my Mutual class. One girl had a cake in her hands and another a gallon of ice cream. They were all smiling and suddenly broke out singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ I didn’t even know how to react.
“I went to Mutual twice that month and once in January. But that was all. The three times I attended were great, and I felt a strange closeness toward those four girls, but the social pressure from my other friends was too great and after leading the kind of life I led all week, I just couldn’t face those Mutual girls. Still they befriended me and never judged.
“March 12 was a very dreary day in my life. I came home from school late. I had flunked an exam that afternoon and was very blue. I came home to find my parents in a very heated argument. Knowing how it would be, I went to my room and sat there, numb, just listening. I don’t remember much after that except losing all control.
“A few days later I gained consciousness in the hospital. For three weeks I lay in the hospital, and for three weeks not one of my friends came to see me. Not one! ... Where were they now when I needed their friendship?
“Instead, every day at 3:30 one of those four Mutual girls would be at my side. They were there every day. They brought me things to read, they sneaked in candy, and they brought in a transistor radio for me to listen to. We would do crossword puzzles together, and they would tell me the latest happenings at school. They never asked what happened and I never offered to tell.
“After I got out of the hospital I began to go to Mutual. I finally realized that those four girls who had taken an interest in me really were sincere. Not only had I grown to like them, but now I felt a bond of love between us. My life seemed to be going so much better. I was happier than I had ever been.
“April 2 was a day I shall never forget.... During the final period of school, the principal walked into the room with a note for me. I was to go home immediately. ... What was wrong at home?
“By the time I reached the house I knew something dreadful had happened. I raced through the front door and almost collided head-on with my dad. I looked up into a ghostly white, tear-streaked face.... He was trembling all over and could only mutter, ‘She’s gone, your mother’s passed away.’”

She said, “I was stunned. I turned and I began to run. I ran and ran and my tears mixed with the rain. I ran until I was exhausted, but I did not stop. My face was swollen and my head hurt. Still I ran. Then, suddenly, I saw from the opposite direction someone coming toward me. I paused and wiped my eyes. Could it be? One of those four Mutual girls, the girls who truly cared about me? One of those girls was running through the rain for me. I began to run again, and when we met I threw my arms around that girl and we both collapsed to the ground. I sat there crying, and she cried with me.”
Then she relates, “In the years that followed, I became one with those four Mutual girls. I learned to care, really care about others and to give of myself. I found that by helping others my own problems diminished.
“When the most important day of my life came, I knelt across the altar from my sweetheart and in the reflection of mirrors were those four Mutual girls, ... with tears running down their cheeks. They had made this possible for me.
“I’ll never know why I had been so important to them. Me, a nobody. I can only thank my Father in heaven for those girls and pray with all my heart that there are many more like them in his Church” (name withheld, “‘How I Hated Those Girls!’” in Jay A. Parry, Everyday Heroes: True Stories of Ordinary People Who Made a Difference [2002], 73–77). 

Thank you for being the ones with charity. You are not ordinary, you are the Lord’s elect. You know what it means to make and keep sacred covenants, and because of that you are striving to “always remember him” in your thoughts and your actions (see Moroni 4:3). By your small and simple acts of charity, you are changing the world. Don’t get discouraged; don’t give up. Your light, your love makes all the difference. Will each of you commit today to reach out and light up the life of another person daily? It doesn’t take much, and it doesn’t have to be grand—just a smile, a loving touch, an arm around, a compliment. Will you do that with me?

The world teaches us that it is all about winning. The Savior teaches us that winners help others succeed. The world teaches that we have no responsibility for another’s actions, decisions, or failures. The Savior teaches us that we can change lives, influence choices as we reach out, forget ourselves, and extend a hand of charity. President Thomas S. Monson reminded each of us of this eternal truth when he said: “In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out” (“Charity Never Faileth,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 125). 

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

(Thank you Elaine!)

No comments:

Post a Comment