Charity Scripture Study Series – Assignments

If you follow the blog, then you have probably seen several of my posts on Charity. I realized that I never gave all of the assignments, so I’ll put them in here in case you are interested.

The Charity Scripture Study Series lasts 14 days. You will study various aspects of Charity and how to obtain it.


Download the entire series here

If you decide to study Charity and you like it, please let me know how it goes! Email me at chococatania [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks and good luck!

Charity Hopeth All Things

I totally love today’s assignment: studying charity and hope…And I completely love this scripture:

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” – Ether 12:4

Here, we see the progression of Faith and then hope.

When we believe in God, we hope for a better world.

I understand that. I hope for a better world. I know that this world will not happen now. I know that world I hope for. I hope for the future, when we live in peace. I think of the lyrics

How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion
Shall lie down together without any ire,
And Ephraim be crowned with his blessing in Zion,
As Jesus descends with his chariot of fire! – The Spirit of God

There are many things that frustrate me about this world right now. And I don’t mean in a stressed-out-unhappy-frustrated way. I mean it in a, “I-can’t-wait-until-a-better-day-way.” I get frustrated with the limitations we have – as natural men. I especially get frustrated with my own limitations and foibles. I get frustrated that I am so flawed. I have many weaknesses. I get frustrated that the world around me is growing in wickedness and boldness. We have so many things threatening our physical and spiritual lives.

Yet, thanks to my faith in the Savior, my frustrations are quelled. I’m filled with hope. Even though I still battle my natural tendencies and try to endure the other trials I face, I know that I don’t need to stress. I know that I don’t need to despair. My faith leads to hope for a better world.

This hope anchors me to the Savior and keeps me cheerful even in difficult times.

As I anchor myself to Christ – through hope – I find that my faith is strengthened, and I’m able to be more charitable. Faith hope and charity are pretty amazing…Elder Uchtdorf explains how they complement one another:

“Faith, hope, and charity complement each other, and as one increases, the others grow as well. Hope comes of faith, for without faith, there is no hope. In like manner faith comes of hope, for faith is “the substance of things hoped for.”

Hope is critical to both faith and charity. When disobedience, disappointment, and procrastination erode faith, hope is there to uphold our faith. When frustration and impatience challenge charity, hope braces our resolve and urges us to care for our fellowmen even without expectation of reward. The brighter our hope, the greater our faith. The stronger our hope, the purer our charity.” – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I love how the Lord helps so much in our quest to obtain charity. I love how the principles of faith, hope, and charity work together. We aren’t expected to do this all on our own. We receive help. We receive strength. Our hope, based on our faith in Christ, will lead us to be more charitable. Our hope, will sustain us in trials. Our hope is strengthened as our faith is strengthened. Our hope is sustained when we give charitable acts.

Everything in the gospel is an upward spiral. Don’t you just love it?

How do you remain hopeful, even in times of trial? How has hope helped to fortify your faith and inspire you to have charity?

Charity Believeth all Things


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So…now we’re really getting to the good stuff. Charity has a strong connection with faith. I’m sure you’ve either noticed it in the scriptures or heard it a lot – faith, hope, and charity. Today, we are studying about faith – and what it has to do with charity.

There are a lot of good places to find definitions of faith or examples of faith. But I love how King Benjamin taught the connection between faith and charity.

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.

And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.” – Mosiah 4:9-13

So…here’s how it works.

1. Believe in God
Here’s faith. We believe in God. We believe that He created all things, has all power, and that he may be a little bit smarter than we are.

Believing God means that we trust in Him.

As our trust and belief in Him grows we will begin to exercise our faith by doing a few things (good works).

2. Do Good Works
I don’t mean this in the typical sense – of serving one another. But I mean we need to do the work that only we can do. We need to give Heavenly Father the only thing we can give Him – our wills. We give up the natural man. We repent. We humble ourselves. We ask for forgiveness.

3. We Receive a Remission of Sins
When we receive a remission of sins, then we will know of His goodness and taste of His love. And – remember – God’s love is charity. It is His pure love – that never fails. We can experience charity – long before we do a single act of service – just by being faithful (through belief in Christ and repentance).

What I find interesting about this is how hard it can be to repent sometimes. Have you found it difficult? I have sinned, and continue to sin. When I approach the the Lord, I often feel ashamed of my sins because I want to be better. I love Heavenly Father, and I know that He loves me. I don’t want to disappoint him. The act of repentance can be hard; we must experience Godly sorrow in order to truly repent. Sometimes it is tempting to think that we would be better off to go without repenting – so we can avoid the shame and discomfort of such growth.

However, it is when we repent that we are filled with such Joy.

I love Alma’s experience –

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” – Alma 36:20-21

As difficult as was the pain Alma experienced, he had to wade through the sorrow of repentance in order to feel the miraculous joy of God’s pure love.

Once we experience this, we need to retain it in our hearts. (Always remember Him).

4. Our Knowledge of God Grows
Here’s why knowing God is kind of a good thing for us:

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:3

Knowing God: knowing His love, commandments, and mysteries is the way that we inherit eternal life. Of course, we can’t know Him if we aren’t living worthy of His Spirit and revelation.

5. We will have charity for others
It is when we develop a love of the Lord and experience His love for us that we are able to share His love for others.

I have experienced this. I know it is true. Because I have felt the deep and abiding love that Heavenly Father has for me, I know that He loves all of His children. When I am close to the Lord, experiencing His charity, I’m filled with this idea, “I need to share this with others.” The only way that I can show my gratitude for the atonement and blessings that God has given me is by sharing the Love He has for others. I know that the Lord loves all of His children. The best way for me to help express this love is by supporting others.

Oh, and one more thing. When I experience the love of the God, my love for Him grows. I want to please Him. I want to make Him happy. And I know that when I sin against others, it hurts the Lord. Conversely, I know what King Benjamin has taught:

“…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” – Mosiah 2:17

My love for others grow as my love for God grows. My love for God is strengthened as I show love for others. And all of this starts with the simple act of faith. It’s neat how that works.

We can develop true charity for others. We just need to take the first step: faith. What do you do to increase your faith? How have you felt faith strengthen your ability to have charity?

Charity Rejoiceth in Truth

One of my favorite scriptures has always been a declaration by Nephi:

“I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.” – 2 Nephi 33:6

I love the simplicity of Nephi’s testimony. And I love that he rejoices in simplicity and truth.

My love for this scripture hasn’t waned. In fact, in times like election years, I find myself wishing that there were more people who rejoiced in truth.

Of course, Nephi’s declaration also makes me think about myself. Do I truly rejoice in truth?

What is truth?
Several years ago, I had a college professor who was a self-proclaimed post-modernist. (The whole idea makes me laugh. You don’t hear things like that anywhere but in college, it seems). I went to college in Utah, and there were many professors who loved to shake things up by questioning religion, especially the Mormon faith. This professor was no exception.

One day, he started in a tangent about truth. He said, that there was no such thing as “truth with a capital-T”. Everything was just relative. It seemed to me that he had the notion of truth confused with beauty (Truth is in the eye of the beholder.) He challenged us to define Truth.

The challenge was rhetorical, but I knew the answer. Earlier that week, I had been in an institute class where we discussed truth, and the divine definition of truth:

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:24

Can you think of a better definition? This is the answer to what truth is. Truth isn’t the popular belief at the time. Truth is the knowledge of how things are. And it is more than that. It is the knowledge of how things are, eternally.

After the class, I went to tell the professor my definition of truth. I remember his response. He dismissed me before I even finished my sentence. Maybe he didn’t rejoice in truth. He couldn’t refute it. He just said, “Well, that’s what you believe.” (I didn’t mention that this was from the scriptures. I just said, “Here is how I define truth…”) So. I feel pretty satisfied – Truth Exists. Incidentally, I rejoice in this fact.

How to come to know the truth.
So…maybe it is still tough to understand what truth is, let alone rejoice in it. We don’t need to fear. We have a way to find out the truth.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” – Moroni 10:4-5

Spiritual Scientific Method

  1. Receive things – We make an observation.
  2. Ask God – Ask A question. (don’t you love this?! Heavenly Father wants us to ask questions. He wants us to know. He doesn’t want us to follow Him blindly. He wants us to follow Him firmly.
  3. Have a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in Christ – Make a hypothesis and experiment. We need to come up with some kind of resolution. The Lord has told us – we need to study things out in our minds.

    Additionally, we need to experiment. How on earth do we expect to have our hypothesis proven or disproven if we haven’t experimented? The idea is ludicrous.

  4. The Holy Ghost will tell us the Truth of all things – In this phase, our hypothesis, through appropriate experimentation and observation, will be either proven or not. We can then choose to accept the hypothesis or reject it. Either way, the Holy Ghost will tell us what is actually true.

Why does it matter?

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32

Truth leads to freedom. Have you ever seen this in your life?

I will give a fairly dramatic example.

In my first marriage, I was married 7 years. Throughout my marriage, I had no idea of the truth. I thought that I was married to a man who respected me and honored God. Anyways. I didn’t. He lived a double life. He was having many affairs and was living in a way completely contrary to the gospel and to what I had agreed to when marrying him.

The entire situation came to me as quite a blow. The Truth, stung me in a way that I can’t describe. It was a shock. I remember someone asking me if it would have been better if I didn’t know.

Of course not!

And there were two reasons:
1. Even though I was married, things were amiss in my marriage, and I never could determine the problem. I prayed about it. I went to the Lord. Nothing ever seemed to be resolved. I learned why once I found out about my ex-husband’s affairs: the Spirit cannot bear false witness. He could never make me feel better about my marriage because it was a lie.
2. As difficult as finding out the truth was, I was so grateful for it. The truth led me to shedding the shackles of a very bad marriage. I believe it was also better for my ex-husband. He could be relieved of his duties and obligations as a husband. Because I knew the truth, I was able to be freed. As much as it hurt, I felt better, I felt free.

Truth leads to freedom in every instance. For me, I rejoice in truth because I’m pretty happy about freedom.

Jesus Christ is the Truth

“For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” – Doctrine and Covenants 84:45

The word of the Lord = Truth → light → Spirit → the Spirit of Jesus Christ

This also makes me think of what we know about the Devil:

“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” – Moses 4:4

We can find the source of truth with Christ. If something is not true, we know who is the author of it.

Our Response to Truth
Those who have a charitable heart, respond to truth with rejoicing. We will be like Nephi who “glories” in it.

If we don’t have charitable hearts, and if we don’t cleave to truth, we may hate it.

“And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” – 1 Nephi 16:1-2

Nephi teaches us the ways both the righteous and the wicked feel about truth. The righteous are justified by the truth. They find solace, peace, and ultimately freedom in truth. Those who are wicked are pained by the truth – it cuts them to the core.

How do you respond to truth? Do you like it? Glory in it? Do you try to avoid it? What are ways that you can improve? Do you find that sometimes it is easier to believe a lie rather than truth? How can you develop more charity so that you begin to rejoice in truth?

Charity Thinketh No Evil

First of all, I noticed that this is one of the more inward concepts about charity. It is something that we do – on our own – and it can’t be seen by others.

Charity thinketh no evil…I have to admit, there are times when I have a problem with this.

Christ explains the issue – with our inward thoughts and how they affect us, entirely:

“And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” – Mark 7:20-21

I know that I have a problem with evil thinking because I still have a problem with sinning. I know that if I think about my sins, which I realize that I should, I would see that they all have one thing in common: They start in my brain.

King Benjamin wisely taught:

“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” – Mosiah 4:30

We must watch our thoughts, words, and deeds. As I think about this scripture, I realize that if we watch our thoughts, we don’t have to “watch” our words and deeds so much. Watching our thoughts, and keeping them pure will help us to say kind words and do good deeds.

Making sure that we don’t think evil seems fundamental to charity. It increases the love we feel from the Lord and the love we ultimately show to others. We can’t do this if we taint our mind with evil thoughts.

In Paul’s epistle to Titus, he states:

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” – Titus 1:15

Interestingly enough, we see here that when we sin, we reinforce that bad behavior in our brains. I know that there is science behind this, too. We do things (good or bad), and create neural pathways in our brains – that get stronger over time or based on the strength of the initial experience. If what we’re doing is sinning, our mind is defiled, and soon nothing is pure.

I’m fascinated by this idea. I once knew someone who was addicted to p*rnography. It was horrible. Because of this addiction, he wasn’t able to look at any image without thinking of it in a vile way. I felt so sad for him – nothing was pure for him.

So, we need to be charitable, full of Christ’s love, and thinking righteous uplifting thoughts – no evil. As we do, we create an environment in our mind that will lead us to righteous words, deeds, and habits. Everything around us will be more pure and beautiful. Our experience will be better, in general.

I love this idea. Sometimes I’m plagued with “evil” thoughts – even in the most ridiculous ways.

Today, I was shopping for jeans. I have to admit, I still haven’t lost my baby weight. This is really depressing for me. I had to get new jeans, though, and I knew that it wouldn’t be a fun trip.

I got to the store, tried on a few pairs, and felt pretty much horrible. I was tempted to think, I hate my body. I wanted to say that to myself, but I’ve been trying not to. Because I know that my body is a temple. It is a gift from God. Even if I have a larger “stature” than I’d like, I’m still grateful for my body.

I fought for this body. It is a blessing.

Today, in the dressing room, I wanted to throw my hands up, say, forget it, I hate my butt, and then eat a piece of cheesecake. But, I realized that these thoughts were evil They don’t come from the Lord. They don’t sustain me, and they won’t help me achieve my goals.

I had to take the time to think differently – I love my body. I love that it works. And, instead of getting a cheesecake, I got a salad…All those good choices led to much better thoughts (even though the jeans were bigger than I’d like!)

What do you do to think righteously? How do you combat evil thoughts?

Charity is not Easily Provoked

I have to admit, “not being easily provoked” isn’t the first thing I think of when I consider the attributes of charity. It probably isn’t even the second or third thing. However, as I have studied this, I can see how important it is that we are not easily provoked.

Christ taught

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” – 3 Nephi 11:29-30

When we have the spirit of contention, we align ourselves with the Devil – the father of contention. And, something more – even when we don’t have the spirit of contention, the devil is trying to stir up our hearts to contend with anger.

Obviously, when our hearts are filled with anger, there is no room for charity. In fact, it seems like there isn’t room for anything other than anger. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m angry, I don’t think logically. I only think about hurting whomever I feel anger toward.

AHH! Totally not Christ-like! Totally not loving.

We get a good example of a bad example of charity in the Book of Mormon. I won’t go into the whole story. Instead, I just want to get right down to the point.

King Noah, by Chris White

Just to quickly catch you up, King Noah was a wicked king. Under his rule, he taxed his people heavily, reveled in sin, put priests (who were also wicked) in power, and corrupted the entire country and government. Things were bad and getting worse, so the Lord sent Abinadi to warn the people – repent or be destroyed.

The people didn’t care for Abinadi’s message. They took him to the King. The King and Priests hated Abinadi’s message. (For the most part. Alma listened, but he had to flee for his life.) The other priests decided to put Abinadi to death.

Upon hearing his death sentence, Abinadi said:

“Now Abinadi said unto him: I say unto you, I will not recall the words which I have spoken unto you concerning this people, for they are true; and that ye may know of their surety I have suffered myself that I have fallen into your hands.

Yea, and I will suffer even until death, and I will not recall my words, and they shall stand as a testimony against you. And if ye slay me ye will shed innocent blood, and this shall also stand as a testimony against you at the last day.” – Mosiah 17:9-10

Abinadi was brave and bold. In fact he declared this with such boldness that King Noah was getting afraid. Even though he didn’t believe in God, King Noah feared his life and feared the judgments of God. Noah was pretty selfish! He didn’t want to suffer in the way that Abinadi had prophesied.

It would have been a smart thing for Noah to end everything there. Even if he didn’t listen to the prophet, it would have been smart for him to at least let him go. But, here’s the problem…Noah was easily provoked.

“But the priests lifted up their voices against him, and began to accuse him, saying: He has reviled the king. Therefore the king was stirred up in anger against him, and he delivered him up that he might be slain.” – Mosiah 17:12

So…King Noah let his anger get the best of him, and he decided to have Abinadi killed. Just as Abinadi warned, Noah was later killed in a like manner (by his own people! – See Mosiah 19:20). Things didn’t turn out well – at all – for Noah. Because of his anger, he killed a prophet, lost his own life, and – basically failed on every account.

I love this example because I often think – how do people get deceived? How do we remain steadfast in a world with so many voices trying to sway our opinions? And I’ve come to learn that it has a lot to do with the condition of our hearts.

When our hearts are soft and open, we can have the Spirit with us. Then, our hearts are fertile ground for charity. We are blessed with love and discernment. When we work hard to qualify for the Spirit, we overcome natural tendencies such as selfishness, pride, and anger. Instead, we fill our hearts with sacrifice, humility, and patience. And, when we do this, we overcome temptations – like evil priests goading us to kill prophets. (Well, maybe not that extreme, but you get the idea!)

I can’t say that I’m the best at being slow to anger. Over time, my road rage is improving, but there are times when I still yell at the car in front of me, next to me, or maybe even behind me. I’ve also got problems with yelling at my kids.

In fact, I have recently been prompted by the Spirit that I’m not being the best mother I can be. I realized that I’m having a negative effect on my children because I’ve been yelling more than usual. I’ve been quick to anger. There may be reasons for it (it’s winter and I’m a little depressed…), but they aren’t worth the loss of the Spirit. I know that charity begins at home, and it starts with my choosing to be slow to anger.

How do you keep from being easily provoked?

Charity Seeketh not Her Own

So…I feel like today’s subject really relates to what we have been studying the past few days (envieth not and is not puffed up), but it is valuable to study each of them in a different light. Today’s study has been no less valuable.

Charity seeketh not her own. In other words, charity is not selfish. I feel like it is probably more than that, too. Charity seeks for others. When pondering this subject, the first thing I thought of was the following scripture:

“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” – Matthew 10:39

Not only does charity not seek her own, but there is a great reward in seeking the Lord’s way – When we seek the Lord, we will find ourselves. It seems counterintuitive, but it is true.

This is especially obvious when you compare the stories of Cain and Nephi.

Cain

  • Cain loved Satan more. (Moses 5:18)
  • Cain was offended when God didn’t respect his offering. (Moses 5:21)
  • Cain is loved enough by God to be warned. (Moses 5:23-25)
  • Cain was angry at his warning, and didn’t listen to the Lord. (Moses 5:26)
  • Cain makes an oath with Satan – secret combination. (Moses 5:29-30)
  • Cain is motivated by power. (Moses 5:31)
  • Cain kills Abel. (Moses 5:32)

    Cain and Abel, by Titian

  • After Cain kills Abel, he thinks that he is free.

    “And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands.” – Moses 5:33

    I think that this response is really telling. Cain thinks that he can gain freedom through hurting others. He is seeking his own welfare, power, and glory. He is so overly concerned with himself that he is even willing murder. His selfishness destroys him and any sense of decency that he may have had.

  • Cain lies to God and asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper.” (Moses 5:34) – This seems to be a peak in his selfishness. I can’t even comment on it – other than Wow…Yet…I can’t act like I’m all that much better. I need to learn what not to do from Cain. In some ways, there are times when I essentially ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper.” I think that this happens when I’m not looking out for what is good for others. When I’m only looking out for myself, then I’m not being my brother’s keeper. It is tempting to do this.

    As I ponder what this means, I realize that it doesn’t mean that I do every single thing for others. This is impossible and impractical. It is not good for me and it doesn’t really help others. If I’m being my brother’s keeper, then I will be praying often – to the Lord – and looking outward. I would serve. And I would be interested in the lives of my brothers and sisters. We can learn a lot from Cain.

  • Cain is cursed. He doesn’t inherit Abel’s fields. Instead, he becomes a fugitive and a vagabond, unable to yield from the earth. (Moses 5:35-38)

In the example of Cain, we see the truth in the Lord’s declaration that “He that findeth his life shall lose it;.” Because Cain went about looking for his life through shortcuts and sin, he eventually lost it. It’s funny that when we are “seeking our own” that is the last thing we’ll ever find.

Luckily, we have a good example, too. (There are a lot of them, actually).

Nephi
(see Helaman 10:4-5)

  • Nephi is blessed.
  • Nephi, with unwearyingness declared the word. (I get tired just by reading the word unwearyingness!)
  • Nephi didn’t fear others.
  • Nephi didn’t seek his own life.
  • Nephi sought the will of God. – This is hard! In the end, we see that it is the best thing to do, but we don’t experience that kind of satisfaction, really, until the end! In the meantime, seeking the will of God is kind of hard. We have to forgo natural desires and the reasoning of the world. We have to exercise faith. Yet, seeking God’s doesn’t seem all that hard when we actually do it. He blesses us all along the way. He comforts us and strengthens us to keep the commandments. We just have to seek Him and not our own.
  • Nephi strove to keep God’s commandments.
  • Nephi will be blessed forever.
  • Nephi is made mighty in word and deed.
  • Nephi is given God’s power – to do anything. God knows that Nephi won’t ask anything contrary to God’s will. God completely trusts Nephi. – I think that this is basically one of the awesomest things ever. God loves us enough to endow us with His power. But he won’t give it to us if we aren’t ready for it. He is a perfect parent. I can understand him, too. I mean, I am a parent, and I would like to see my children be able to do all that I do – if not more. However, I know that I won’t give them many freedoms or blessings until they are ready for them. This isn’t because I’m power-hungry. It is because I don’t want them to hurt themselves.

    Heavenly Father is the same way. When we have been trained correctly, we will be able to have power like His. Just as Nephi did. Elijah also had this power – the sealing power. Nephi gave up his life and will to the Lord, and eventually foudn it.

Charity seeketh not her own. When we try to do things our own way, we will come up with hardship and failure. However, if we put our trust in the Lord, and seek His will, then He sustains us with His power and we are able to obtain charity. It is powerful to know that Charity never fails. And it is even more remarkable to see that God’s power is completely rooted in Charity: selflessness, and love.

I want to seek God’s will. I’m trying to be better at this. Currently, I’m actively praying to do His will, even though I don’t always follow through on it. I’m still pretty selfish. I have a lot of room for improvement, but I want to be selfless one day. I look up to examples like President Monson. I know that through prayer and practice, I can one day be a person who isn’t just looking out for myself. I really want that for my life.

What do you do to seek God’s will and increase in Charity?

Charity is Not Puffed Up

The next thing we learn about charity is Charity…is not puffed up. In the scriptures, the term – puffed-up is synonymous with having pride.

The term “puffed up” is used a little bit in the New Testament and more commonly used in the Book of Mormon. But in each of the standard works, we learn that charity is not proud.

“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” – Psalms 10:4

Already, it is obvious that we cannot possibly have the love that never fails — Christ’s pure love — if we are not remembering Him. The proud do not remember God nor do they seek God. They are busy with something else. Now, the question is why don’t the proud seek God?

“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.” – 2 Nephi 9:28

The proud don’t seek God because they don’t think that they need Him. They are puffed up by their own knowledge, riches, or power. I can see how this would happen. I mean, it kind of makes sense. Often, when we are successful, we forget what it is like to need someone or something else. We are filled with the false sense of our own power or ability. And the thing is: we are all just people. We all come to earth and leave it the same way. It is kind of funny that we are so apt to pride, but we are.

Pride – causes us to ignore the counsels of God, and that is when the problems begin.

Let’s take a look at the Nephites. They cycled through periods of righteousness and wickedness. This pattern is called the Pride Cycle.

The Pride Cycle

1. Righteousness and Prosperity

“And it came to pass that in this same year there was exceedingly great prosperity in the church, insomuch that there were thousands who did join themselves unto the church and were baptized unto repentance.

And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.

And it came to pass that the work of the Lord did prosper unto the baptizing and uniting to the church of God, many souls, yea, even tens of thousands.
***
And it came to pass that there was peace and exceedingly great joy in the remainder of the forty and ninth year; yea, and also there was continual peace and great joy in the fiftieth year of the reign of the judges.” – Helaman 3:24-32

At this time, the church was prospering. People were happy. Blessings were being poured out upon the people. This was because of their faith in God. Heavenly Father blesses us when we keep His commandments. The Nephites were faithful, and Heavenly Father was blessing them accordingly.

2. Pride Begins to Enter into the Hearts of the People

“And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—

And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.
***
And it came to pass that the fifty and second year ended in peace also, save it were the exceedingly great pride which had gotten into the hearts of the people; and it was because of their exceedingly great riches and their prosperity in the land; and it did grow upon them from day to day.” – Helaman 3:33-36

While most of the people were living in peace, pride begins to creep into the hearts of some of those who profess to be saints.

I find this interesting. The Church wasn’t threatened by an outside force. Instead, it was threatened by what was coming from within – pride. And this from people who professed to belong to the Church of God. These so-called saints began persecuting others.

Not everyone was filled with pride, but those that were became a big problem for the church and even the faithful.

The thing that is most interesting is how these people became proud – because of their riches – the blessings that they had received from God based on their prior faith and humility.

I feel like I’ve seen this in my life: pride creeping up on me. I know that I have a problem with it. I don’t generally judge people because of their money or lack of money, but I do have a problem with forgetting that I can’t see the heart of another. Because the Lord has seen fit to bless me, I often foolishly forget that I am reliant on Him. I forget that those who are suffering are not necessarily wading through affliction because of unworthiness. Even in my most prosperous moment, I need the Lord. It is important to remember this. Again, it goes back to what was said in the Psalms…To combat pride, I need to seek after God. It is interesting to me – that this is essentially the covenant I made at baptism: to always remember Him. It seems impossible to be puffed-up if I’m truly keeping the covenant I’ve made.

3. War, Famine, or Destruction

“And it came to pass in the fifty and fourth year there were many dissensions in the church, and there was also a contention among the people, insomuch that there was much bloodshed.
***
But it came to pass in the fifty and sixth year of the reign of the judges, there were dissenters who went up from the Nephites unto the Lamanites; and they succeeded with those others in stirring them up to anger against the Nephites; and they were all that year preparing for war.

And in the fifty and seventh year they did come down against the Nephites to battle, and they did commence the work of death; yea, insomuch that in the fifty and eighth year of the reign of the judges they succeeded in obtaining possession of the land of Zarahemla; yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful.” – Helaman 4:1-10

After increasing in pride and wickedness, the people lost love towards one another (charity!), which caused dissension and contention. Problems!!!

Helaman teaches us the cause of such loss:

“Now this great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God.

And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites—” – Helaman 4:1-10

The pride of the wicked caused the plight of the people. Because of their riches, they grew proud. They oppressed the poor, withheld food from the hungry, refused to clothe the naked, and mocked what was sacred. They abused others, denied the Spirit, murdered, plundered, lied, stole, and committed adultery. All of these things are horrible.

Truly, pride is enmity toward God – and all things godly.

The state of the people at this time seem vaguely familiar. Even though many of us may not feel “rich”, it has dawned on me that most Americans really are rich. We have been abundantly blessed. Even if we are going through hard times – they are only “hard times” compared to some of the luxuries we have experienced in the past. Most of us do not have to endure difficulties like many throughout the world or in the history of time have. We are a rich and blessed culture.

And it seems like we have a hard time remembering our reliance on God – until things fall apart.

“And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.” – Helaman 4:13

Humility and Repentance

“But behold, Moronihah did preach many things unto the people because of their iniquity, and also Nephi and Lehi, who were the sons of Helaman, did preach many things unto the people, yea, and did prophesy many things unto them concerning their iniquities, and what should come unto them if they did not repent of their sins.

And it came to pass that they did repent, and inasmuch as they did repent they did begin to prosper.” – Helaman 4:14-15

Finally, the people, beat down by their own pride, wickedness, and destruction become humble. They have to endure the difficulty that came by their own greed and pride. They repent, and experience the Love God has for them (charity!), grow in faith, and once again are prospered.

***

This is an interesting pattern to see, and I think that we’ve witnessed it in our own lives. Sometimes, you can see it on a big scale – for example: in a nation. There are other times when we see it in our own specific lives. I know that when I have grown proud, in my own ability, I begin to cut myself off of God’s love. I forget Him. When I forget the Lord, I forget what His love feels like. I forget that I need Him. I forget about His tender mercies.

When I forget His love, I have no hope in sharing it with others.

When we are proud, and we cut ourselves off from God, we cut ourselves off from obtaining Charity. We are then left to our own devices: which always results in sadness and failure.

So…I’m going to do more to try to remember the Lord, remember my nothingness, and my need for Him. What do you do to remember God and keep from getting “puffed-up?”

Charity Envieth Not

I saw this picture the other day, and I think that it has to do with charity envying not…

Now I don’t think that all comparison is bad. And I don’t think that comparison = envy. But it seems to be the first step.

Take, for example, the parable of the laborers. I will spare the entire text, but here’s the main idea:

The householder hires a group of laborers early in the day and offers to pay them a penny for their labor. Later on, the householder hires another group of laborers and offers to pay them a penny for their labor. Finally, the householder hires a last group of laborers and offers to pay them a penny for their labor. When the end of the day comes, the laborers who were hired first murmur because of how much they were paid in comparison to the wages earned by those who only worked a few hours.

I understand why the laborers hired first are a little upset. It seems like the householder hadn’t been fair. But when we think about it – the scenario is fair. This is the wage that the laborers agreed on. So, this parable isn’t about fairness. It is about envy and jealousy.

The charitable laborer wouldn’t have murmured – no matter what seemed “fair.”

Here’s an example from my own life.

Sometimes, I feel like people who join the church later in life are lucky. I was baptized when I was eight. I grew up in the church. When I was in high school, I went to mutual and seminary. I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t drink. I kept the law of chastity. I didn’t curse. Often, my response was I can’t.

I didn’t really mind skipping out on “fun” and doing things that seemed…less fun…because I knew that the church was true.

Anyways…so I didn’t have “fun”. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve met people who have joined the church as an adult. They experimented as teens, they went to parties, they watched R rated movies and drank caffeine. They had “fun”, and they made it okay – eventually joining the church.

It is easy to romanticize this idea – that I should be jealous of the life that they have lived, and feel sorry for myself – for being faithful. HA! I’m being like a laborer.

I remember when I was in my early 20s, there was a woman who was joining the church. She was beautiful, thin, pretty. She had lived an interesting life, and then was being introduced to the church. She had several changes to make in her life, but she was making them, and everyone in the ward rallied around her. In some ways, I envied the life that she had. And then it struck me: in my fantasized view of her life. In other words, in my jealousy, I overlooked the truth. While I was living my life: making covenants with the Lord and enjoying the peace of the gospel, she was looking for it. She couldn’t find it at parties or with boyfriends. No matter how many accomplishments she achieved, some kind of deeper peace was missing. Her heart yearned for what I have had all along.

When I made this realization, I was no longer jealous. In fact, it was the opposite, I was truly happy for her. I was able to rejoice in her blessings. And, as I felt happy for her, I began to feel happier – even for myself. It is amazing, how charity and love can dispel envy, sadness, and anger.

Back to those laborers…It is easy for the other laborers that worked earlier in the day to assume that their lives had been harder. But was it harder – to work, knowing that you are stable and knowing that you will be paid; or was it harder to wait – for work, for hope, for a chance? We don’t know what it was like for the laborers hired later in the day. And envy for their position cancels any chance of us looking at the situation with compassion, perspective, or understanding. Instead, our envy turns into anger – towards our fellow brothers and sisters; and even to our God.

So…comparison can lead to envy. Envy destroys the Spirit, stops us from experiencing the joy that comes from Christ’s pure love.

Charity envieth not.

There are so many ways that envy can get in the way of Charity. How do you learn to get over envy? How has letting go of envy helped charity to grow in your life?

Charity is Kind

Charity and Kindness seem to be pretty obviously related, and I’m not going to post much about this concept (I have only a few minutes to post)

One of the best lessons on kindness is that of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Here are a few things that I noticed

  • Kindness and compassion are closely related. In fact, sometimes compassion motivates us to be kind.
  • Being kind is a state of being – either we are kind or we are not. If we are truly kind, then we will serve others – regardless of their status or circumstances. We are kind to all because we are kind. It is simple. – I guess another way of saying this is if we are kind, then we are kind to friends, enemies, plants, animals, everything. Kindness isn’t a way to act for a day or two – it is a sense of being.
  • Kindness also seems to be quite spiritual in that we must follow the Spirit. In the parable of the good samaritan, he went above and beyond to serve his fellow man. He made sure that the robbed man was taken care of. Yet, the Good Samaritan didn’t completely abandon his journey. He did what he needed to do, and then went on. I’m not sure if I’m making sense here or not, so I’ll try…

    Sometimes I have this idea that if I’m truly charitable or kind, then I’ll do everything within my power that is needed. I even tend to get this confused with the idea that I need to do everything. But this isn’t the case. The Good Samaritan doesn’t completely cancel his journey. He takes care of the robbed man, then pays the innkeeper to take care of him while the Samaritan leaves. This isn’t out of selfishness, it is out of prudence. The Spirit will help us to discern what is needful and what is extraneous.
  • We also need to be kind to ourselves. What if the Good Samaritan had seen that the robbed man was a Jew then thought to himself, “Well, I’m not really worthy to help a Jewish man. It would only offend him.”? It seems silly, but I’m often unkind to myself, which stops me from having kindness or charity to others.
  • Kindness is given without expectation or compensation.
  • Kindness can be the way that others experience the love of the Lord. – How cool is it to know that through our kindness, we can help to contribute to the testimony of another. It isn’t that I want any recognition for being kind, it is just cool to know that when we are kind, the Lord is able to use us his instruments.

Kindness and charity are related. In fact, it seems preposterous that charity could be obtained or expressed without kindness. The connection is obvious. If we have Christ’s pure love, then we are kind.

I know that I can do more to show kindness. A lot of my lack of kindness has to do with my lack of patience. I get frustrated with someone, then I withdraw kindness. Charity doesn’t work that way, and neither does kindness. I know that I need to learn to be kind, unconditionally. Being a parent has really helped me with this.

How do you work to increase your kindness?

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