Charity Is the Pure Love of Christ
Charity or the Pure Love of Christ never faileth. Why? Charity never faileth because the love our Savior has for us is without limitation; just as the atonement is infinite and eternal (Alma 34:10), so is His love. Moroni, the Book of Mormon warrior-prophet, wrote:
And 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 (Moroni 7:45).
No story of charity is more profound than that of the Father as He allowed his Son to become the Savior of the World; or the Messiah as He fulfilled his mortal mission. In Gethsemane he prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
After his unimaginable suffering for our sins in that sacred garden, He healed Malchus’ ear which had been cut off by Peter. Malchus was a servant of a high priest who came to arrest him (Luke 22:51; Matthew 26:51; John 18:10).
Christ withheld rebuke when rejected, spat upon, scourged, mocked, jeered, crucified, and railed against. As He hung in excruciating agony upon a cross, His brow crowned with thorns, His flesh pierced with thick, crude nails, His response was, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Truly did Isaiah prophesy,
Surely he hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
In those sacred hours as He experienced our feelings of abandonment and rejection, pain and sorrow, suffering and remorse, He did not shun one because of poverty, or another because of appearance, or another because of simple-mindedness. For every one of us, for all who would accept Him as their Savior, his strong arm of mercy is extended with an invitation to come unto Him, to be like Him.
We, who are so richly and abundantly blessed and so eternally and perfectly loved, have the sacred injunction to extend to others hands of fellowship and hearts of compassion. If we allow it, Jesus Christ will be our continual source of healing balm, no matter the hurt or how serious the sin. Because we have access to this never-ending supply of succor, healing, and grace we have the ability to develop charity. But we cannot develop true charity until we come to know Christ and experience regularly His love for us. As we allow the power of the atonement into our lives we are freed to move beyond the natural man, becoming true disciples of Christ, putting the needs of others ahead of our own and seeing them as Christ sees them.
In the October 2009 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, President Uchtdorf, said –
Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk (“The Love of God”, Ensign November 2009).
Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–94) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,
We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more. 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.…
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 has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended. … Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other (“The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992, 18–19).
How often we find ourselves taking offense because of what someone said or did. How often we let the pain of an unkind remark whether intentional or unintentional canker our souls. Such a pattern of building walls of offense and defense is a pattern we must be willing to forsake. We cannot develop charity behind a fortress of self-defense. We must be engaged in the work hand to hand, heart to
heart. It is part of our test to prove to our Heavenly Father that we will do all that He expects us to do. When faced with the choice to hold on to hurt feelings or anger, I have found that pouring out my heart to my Heavenly Father in prayer brings great peace and strength to carry on. I have seen miracles occur. I know our Savior is mindful of us and opens the way for us to keep His commandments, because He also binds our wounds and heals them.
I have also learned for myself the great necessity of continually studying the life and gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be continually renewed and strengthened by His healing power. As a second witness of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon is a powerful reminder of the love and healing ability of the Savior. As we study the Book of Mormon and focus on the witnesses of Christ, His words and His works, our understanding of Him and faith in Him is strengthened because we begin to see that His love and healing is for all who come unto him, for us individually. As our understanding grows, and as we accept more fully of our Redeemer’s love, we are freed to extend love to others. We are able to feel compassion and empathy for others who sorrow and joy for those who are joyful. Each step we take enables us to better develop the precious gift of charity. Christ and His gospel become in effect, “…a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life” (Doctrine and Covenants 63:23).