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?