Thursday, March 21, 2013

Changed by Charity

Song lyrics lodge themselves in my brain and emerge from my mouth when someone says a word or phrase that is in the song. Usually I sing them before I realize I am singing! For example, take the word "heaven."  Here we go.  "Ooh baby, do you know what that's worth? Ooh heaven is a place on earth!" and "Baby you're all that I want, when you're lying here in my arms, I'm finding it hard to believe, we're in heaven" and "Where is heaven? Is it very far? I would like to know if it's beyond the brightest star.  Where is heaven? Will you show the way? I would like to learn and grow and go there someday."

Charity is the pure love of Christ. Love brings to mind dozens of songs, and if I listed every song I would be here all day.  But here is the first song on the list, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  It's the only thing that there's just too little of."  Okay, just one more. "All you need is love, love is all you need."  Who knew The Beatles were echoing the words of Moroni when they recorded that song? He taught that if we do not have charity, we are nothing. Yikes. Charity must be pretty important! Thus the examination of charity.  Elder Marvin J. Ashton, a past member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, taught that charity is more than service. "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" (The Tongue Can be a Sharp Sword, April 1992 General Conference).

Charity is loving God's children the way HE loves them. How then do we act towards our fellowmen, and ourselves, when we are filled with the virtue of Christ's love? After studying Moroni Chapter 7 and the words of modern prophets, this is what I came up with.

If we LACK charity, we will:

1. Gossip and talk badly about other people
2. Judge other people
3. Put others down to build ourselves up
4. Feel entitled to blessings we do not have
5. Gratify our own desires no matter the cost
6. Take offense, whether when it is intended or not
7. Hold onto grudges
8. View people as our enemies
9.  Envy others' accomplishments
10. Be quick to criticize ourselves and others

If we HAVE charity, we will:

1. Speak kindly about our fellow men
2. Give others the benefit of the doubt
3. Give compliments freely and openly
4. Be grateful for the blessings we have been given
5. Think of others needs before ourselves
6. Accept advice with humility
7. Freely forgive
8. View people as fellow sons and daughters of God
9.  Be happy for others' accomplishments
10. Be patient with ourselves and others

I love Elder Ashton's continued explanation of charity in his talk.  It explains more fully how we behave when we are changed by charity:

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 had 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.

How can we receive charity? By praying for it. Moroni taught that we should "pray unto the Father with ALL the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true folllowers of his Son, Jesus Christ" (7:48).  The times I prayed for charity the most were when I had conflicts with others, making it more difficult for me to love them. When I prayed to see them as Christ sees them, I saw past the mote in their eyes and noticed the beam in my own (Luke 6:42). Can you imagine how the world would change if we were all filled with charity? So music industry, if you need inspiration for a new love song, I recommend you read Moroni Chapter 7 in the Book of Mormon.  It is about real, perfect love. It is Christ's love and it can change all our lives for eternity.