Moroni chapter 7 Verse 45 says, “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.”
My first thought on these verses was that all of those things are contrary to the natural man. The natural man definitely envies things and is prideful and easily provoked, and how many of us can honestly say that we think no evil?
Verses 46-47 are equally interesting they say, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail–But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”
Charity never faileth is of course something the women in the church have heard a lot, it’s the motto for relief society, and that makes sense. I have never met a more charitable group of people than I have in this church. The first time I ever attended the YSA that I would soon be baptized into I showed up knowing two people: the missionaries. It was Easter and this girl came up to me and introduced herself, her name was Hilary, and she asked me what I was doing for Easter. Now of course initially I was shocked that anyone came up to talk to me because I’m sure all she saw was a rough looking girl who sat in the back, who clearly had some walls up, who looked like she hadn’t worn a dress in ten years, and went to an all women’s college that was dripping with feminists who were super anti-mormon. But nevertheless she talked to me. I told her I wasn’t doing anything for Easter because I couldn’t go home. She then invited me to go to a play with her and her friends at the stake center that was free. When I told her I didn’t have ride she said, well we will find you a ride, in fact we will find you one to my house and you can have dinner with us and we can all ride over together. This conversation lasted maybe five minutes. When I told my mom about it later she said, why are these people so nice? It was weird for us. But I can tell you why she had reached out to a stranger who needed a friend. She was showing charity.
Now back to Moroni. verse 48 is the verse that really stuck out to me, and what I’m going to base the rest of my talk on. It says, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”
There are two parts to that that I would like to focus on. The first being that we must “pray unto the Father with all energy of heart” to receive it. Charity is a gift given from God. When we go out looking for people to teach we are told to find people doing charitable acts, because it’s those people, who are exemplifying Christlike attributes who are ready for the gospel. You cannot be a bad person and have true charity, because it is, as I said, a gift that we receive when we pray “with all energy of heart.” It takes a lot of energy to get charity and it’s the energy of our hearts. It doesn’t just say to pray will all your energy, but that energy comes from your heart, just as charity comes from the heart.
The second part I wanted to focus on is right after that line it says to “pray…with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with THIS love.” This love. So what’s the difference between charity or “this love” and ordinary everyday love? I love my mom, my best friends, my companion, and other people who are similarly close to me, but charity is the love we can feel for a complete stranger, and it is the love we feel for someone who has caused us pain at one point or another. I believe that charity is what leads to forgiveness.
Keith B. Mcmullin gave a talk in the April 2010 general conference titled our path of duty which includes a story I would like to share with you:
“In Holland during World War II, the Casper ten Boom family used their home as a hiding place for those hunted by the Nazis. This was their way of living out their Christian faith. Four members of the family lost their lives for providing this refuge. Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie spent horrific months in the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp. Betsie died there–Corrie survived.
In Ravensbrück, Corrie and Betsie learned that God helps us to forgive. Following the war, Corrie was determined to share this message. On one occasion, she had just spoken to a group of people in Germany suffering from the ravages of war. Her message was “God forgives.” It was then that Corrie ten Boom’s faithfulness brought forth its blessing.
A man approached her. She recognized him as one of the cruelest guards in the camp. “You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he said. “I was a guard there. … But since that time, … I have become a Christian.” He explained that he had sought God’s forgiveness for the cruel things he had done. He extended his hand and asked, “Will you forgive me?”
Corrie ten Boom then said:
“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there–hand held out–but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
“… The message that God forgives has a … condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. …
“… ‘Help me!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
“… Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. As I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart.’
“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.””
This man was one of the cruelest guards at that camp. How many of us can honestly say that we would have forgiven him? She knew that she could not do it of her own strength, so she prayed for help. Corrie ten boom knew that that kind of forgiveness, that kind of Love, could only come from God. That’s charity. I find it so powerful that she acted on it before she felt like she could. She told God that she could do the action if He could make her feel it. She needed His help, and she got it. She knew that God had always been charitable to her and now it was her turn to show that she was grateful for that and turn and do it to someone else. Not everyone recognizes the charity they receive from The Lord.
In the parable of the unmercifully servant a king brings before him a servant who owes him ten thousand talents, which is equal to over nine million dollars. The king decides he will sell the man and his whole family to get the money owed, but the man begs him for forgiveness, and I dare say that the king was filled with charity, and he lets him go. This servant, however, goes out and finds a man who owes him a hundred pence, which is like fifteen dollars, and demands to be paid. But when this man begs for mercy, the servant throws him in jail until the money can be paid. I hear that story and I think, wow what an awful person. He was forgiven a nine million dollar debt, but could not forgive a fifteen dollar debt. But are we any different than that servant? Jesus Christ has shown charity enough to forgive even those who crucified and tormented him. He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
He also showed charity enough to eat with publicans and sinners. Do we do that? Do we forgive even the worst things? Do we reach out to everyone who needs someone? Charity is about forgiveness, it is also about looking passed what you can see to see what Heavenly Father sees. Hilary saw a rough looking feminist. Corrie ten boom saw a cruel man. Heavenly Father only saw his children.
I invite each of you to think about how you exemplify charity. See those around you as the son or daughter of Heavenly Father that they are and reach out your hand. If you cannot let go of something, turn to your Heavenly Father. I know that charity is a gift we receive by asking for it and acting on it. I promise that Heavenly Father can help you see what you cannot see and feel what you do not think you can feel.
I will end with 3 Nephi 12:44-45 (and similarly written in Matthew 5:44-45): But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.