Having Charity – Even when Relationships Fail (1 John 2:10)

“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” – 1 John 2:10

I read this scripture today, and I had a few thoughts…

Charity Never Fails
When we choose to love our brother, then we will abide in light – the light of Christ. This tells me that the love that we must have for our brothers is charity, the pure love of Christ.

I think that, in some ways, this may be a little more difficult than we want it to be or realize it is. Last summer, I went to Boston for the funeral of my brother. I drove cross-country with my sister. We are close, and get along well – for the most part. But this situation was difficult. It was stressful. My dad and stepmom were going through a divorce, and then my brother passed away. There were so many things on our minds. My sister and I deal with stress in vastly different ways.

So, before I left, I asked Homey to give me a priesthood blessing. I was taught that in order to truly love my sister, I needed to learn to understand her. That advice came as a bit of a surprise to me. I felt (and feel) like I love my sister. I realized that I do love my sister – but with my love; my imperfect and fickle love. Sure, I may love her more than I love most people, but I still don’t love her in a pure way – in the way that Christ loves. I needed to change that. And a key to changing it was through learning to understand her.

I admit that I’m not really there yet. It is hard to understand another person, but I can see what the Lord was trying to teach me – I needed to have charity. If I could obtain this kind of love toward her, then I wouldn’t stumble in this relationship.

But What about when relationships do fail?
This is the tricky thing, I think. There are times when we do our best – when we love others as purely as possible, and we feel good about it, yet the relationship fails. And I realize that most likely it is not because the Lord has failed us, but because we can’t guarantee that pure love will be reciprocated.

I’ve come to learn that there are almost no guarantees in life. We can go to the temple every week with our spouse, and then still end up getting divorced. This doesn’t mean that the Lord failed us – instead, the failure lies in one (or even both) of the people in the couple.

It is nice to tell ourselves that if we love someone, if we pray together, or if we attend the temple together, then our relationships won’t fail. This is not always true.

If we want our relationships to endure, then both parties need to be committed to the Lord – committed to His charity – committed to loving the other person with such enduring love. Only then will the relationship really endure.

Even if a Relationship Fails, We Will Not Stumble
Sounds strange, but it is true.

The thing is – when we love others with Christ’s love, then it means we have first obtained this love from Christ. We need to have a relationship with the Lord in order to receive and then share His love.

The awesome thing about this is that Christ is a consistent and true partner. He will not fail us. He will not forget us. He will not betray us. He is perfect. We can trust in Him. Even when everything else fails, He will not fail.

So – our relationships with others may fail, but if we have worked (ourselves) to love others with Christlike love, then we have learned to cultivate His love in ourselves. And, though we may lose a relationship, we will still have a relationship with the Lord. He will heal us and help us – even in the midst of failure. Though we face difficulties – perhaps even the difficulty of an unexpected or difficult divorce, we will not stumble. We will not fail. The Lord will buoy us up with His infinite and pure love. And we can only receive this blessing if we have been doing the work to obtain His love in the first place.

What do you do to love others in a Christ-like way? How have you been blessed by loving others this way? If you have loved another purely, then been betrayed by that person, how did the Lord’s love help you cope?

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