Charity - the Greatest of All Attributes

Charity is the greatest of all attributes
—it is pure love that endures forever!  Charity is the unconditional love the Savior has for every person on earth.  The purpose of life is to acquire that same unconditional love for one another. 

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.  Doth not behave itself unseemly, 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.  Charity never faileth…And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”   (1 Corin. 13:4-8, 13)

Christ did not merely speak about love—he showed love through his actions.  He gave what money could not buy—offering love, comfort, healing, help, encouragement, and hope to those who were suffering or in need.  There are countless opportunities to follow the Savior’s example every day, serving others as he served—a sign that we are transforming ourselves to become more like Christ, loving as he loves.    

“…for God is love… In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins...We love him, because he first loved us.”  (John 4:8-19)  

True charity is more than a principle—it is love in action The greatest act or symbol of charity was the atonement.  Our Heavenly Father sent his Son to earth to live, suffer, and die for all others on earth.  Christ’s charity was boundless, giving the gift of eternal life to all who live worthy of it.  

Service without Charity.  The Apostle Paul taught that it is possible to give all you have to the poor—and still not have charity.  A person can also have a perfect understanding of earthly and religious knowledge, perform miracles, and hold important church callings—and still not have true charity.  

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”  (I Corin. 13:2-3)

There is a significant difference between service and charity.  Service is the activity which helps us learn to develop charity.  Service is the outward appearance of love; but charity is an inside job—inside the heart.  

Charity is not an event—it is an attitude of noticing, caring about, and helping others every day. Charity is an inward feeling of loving and caring about both God and the welfare of all those around us. 

Charity is present when we are tolerant of others and lenient towards their actions.  Charity is present when we are forgiving, patient, sympathetic, compassionate and merciful (not only in times of sickness and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others).  Charity is present when we help those who are discouraged; or when we are patient with someone who has let us down; or when we resist the impulse to become offended easily.  Charity is accepting people as they truly are, and resisting the impulse to judge and criticize.  Charity is accepting the weaknesses and shortcomings of others, and looking beyond physical appearances to their attributes within.   Charity is remembering that life is not perfect for any of us, and we all need to help each other.    

When we are willing to put aside our own selfish interests for the good of another person, going out of our way to sacrifice and do something that will help another, then we have the true love of Christ in our heart.  

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you…by love serve one another.”   (John 13:34-35; Gal. 5:13)

Public recognition is not the objective.  Remember—“There is no limit to the good you can do, if you don’t care who gets the credit.”    General George C. Marshall

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in Heaven.  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.  Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:  That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”  (Matthew 6:1-4) 

Everyone Needs Love.  Love is one of our most basic needs, and without it, a person cannot develop normally.  Babies, who are left in cribs without constant nurturing, fail to thrive.  A person who does not feel loved usually reacts in unacceptable ways—always seeking attention, or becoming hostile, aggressive, or shy.  No matter how he says it, that person is asking someone to recognize him, accept him, and love him.  The person who is most difficult to love often needs love the most. 

As a true disciple of Christ, our view of family members, neighbors and all others changes; and we love them as Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father love them.  This pure love for our fellow man motivates us to do all within our power to take care of those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…”   (James 1:27)

We each have something to give our heart to—it may be our time, our resources, our skills, or our talents.  It could be as simple as a smile or a compliment.  It may be a listening ear to someone who feels burdened, patiently listening to truly understand.  An extended hand of friendship and an offer to help may be just what is needed to get someone through the day.  

“They do not love that do not show their love.” 
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona”
William Shakespeare

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
‘What are you doing for others?’”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.