A few years ago I was attending a church meeting in an area that warranted the whole sermon being given in Spanish. I know I like to brag about my Spanish proficiency, but in all honesty, I'm Spanish level 5-year-old. And at that point, I was probably more along the lines of Spanish level 3-year-old. Anyways! The main speaker stood up to give his talk and I started to pay closer attention. Over and over again he repeated a phrase that even my basic knowledge of Spanish could understand, "sin la caridad, no eres nada." Repeatedly he told the congregation, "without charity, you are nothing."
Charity is commonly defined as the "pure love of Christ," (Moroni 7:47). We are told that charity "suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, 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," (see also: 1 Corinthians 13:4).
Since having charity was the one part of the meeting I really understood, I thought about that phrase a lot over the next few days. And I have thought about that phrase a lot since then. And the fact that if I don't have charity, I am "nothing." Acting without charity, limits the potential I have to do good" in the world. Instead, I become a shadow (nothing) compared to what I could be. So, I've been trying to thaw out my cold, grinchy heart and learn to love better. And particularly, with a Christlike love. In this endeavor, I have found a couple of focal points to be particularly useful and I hope you will, too!
Be patient. "Endureth all things"
We cannot change others. A fact of life is that EVERYONE gets agency, or that ability to choose how they will act in any given circumstance. If we have charity, we don't just love people when they are doing what we want them to do. We love them always. We patiently love them, as Christ patiently loves us. And how wonderful is it to have people who you know will love you always, even on those days when you are having a rough time? In order to receive love like that, we need to give love like that.
Forgive. "Thinketh no evil"
In the most recent General Conference, Jörg Klebingat said, "Forgive everyone, everything, all the time, or at least strive to do so, thus allowing forgiveness into your own life. Don’t hold grudges, don’t be easily offended, forgive and forget quickly, and don’t ever think that you are exempt from this commandment." Being who I am, I always ALWAYS think I'm right. Forgiveness can be a struggle. But! As I've tried to apply this principle in my life, I've noticed not only have I become happier, I have felt an increase of love, or charity, towards the people I forgive.
Hope. "Believeth all things, hopeth all things"
I think we could all have a little more faith in each other. Have faith that rarely, if ever, will anyone ever do anything to make you upset on purpose. Everyone is honestly trying their best with the knowledge they have. No one is perfect. Everyone is learning. So instead of seeing those we associate with in their imperfect current states, we should strive to see their potential. We each need to develop the ability to see others as they could be. I think part of the reason that God loves His children so much is because He sees us as the wonderful people we have the potential to be, and does not focus on our faults or imperfections. We could do well to love others with that same kind of love.
Learning how to have charity toward everyone will be a lifelong pursuit. I'm grateful for the perfect example I have of my Savior. And I'm particularly grateful to always know that He loves me. And guess what?! He loves you too :)
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