A divine formula

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

"Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

"Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

"Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away." (1 Cor. 13:1-8.)

Some of the most famous and most beautifully expressed words of Paul the apostle are recorded in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians.

These words have to do with charity. The Book of Mormon gives a definition of charity and a promise to those who possess it: "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." (Moroni 7:47.)

Paul said that if we don't have the love of Christ - true love for Christ and our fellowmen - we are as nothing, even if we have all faith so that we could remove mountains or even if we give all our goods to feed the poor. It is obvious, then, that this true love of Christ, charity, is very important.

Paul taught that charity "thinketh no evil" and "rejoiceth not in iniquity."

Let's think about these teachings of Paul for a few moments, and then give our imaginations free rein:

Imagine what our world would be like if no one had evil thoughts. Ponder the kind of society we would have if no one devised evil toward other people. And what if our feet were not swift in running to mischief? Think about what kind of lives we would lead if we never sowed discord, if none of us ever deliberately lied or misrepresented. And consider how harmonious our associations would be if none of us gossiped or smeared another's name.

To say Paul's teachings were impressive is to employ understatement. The wisdom of the ages can impart no better formula for peaceful and successful relationships between the peoples of the world.

It is fascinating to imagine what the world would be like if its inhabitants "rejoiceth not in iniquity." If no one took joy in iniquity, would there be any?

People sin because they think they will benefit by it. It's the deception of Cain all over again: Cain thought he could murder Abel and get gain through his heinous deed. But the wise among us have learned that an evil seed brings an evil harvest and that no one can afford to fall into Cain's delusion.

Yet some among us do. In the days of Adam, many turned their backs upon the Lord for they loved Satan more than God. Why did they love Satan more? Because they found joy in sin. They rejoiced in iniquity, and they allowed their minds to dwell on sin. Unfortunately, the same can be said for today.

At another time and in another place - Athens - Paul taught that we are the offspring of God. (Acts 17:29.) Jesus repeatedly taught that God is our Father. The Savior's teachings show that inasmuch as we are the children of God, we have divinity within us, and that we are expected to live up to that exalted birthright. Can anyone begin to even imagine that a worthy son or daughter of God would engage in thinking evil or rejoicing in iniquity?

Paul's was not the lone voice teaching about the true love of Christ. Amulek, who lived decades earlier, testified that the Nephites' prayers were vain and would avail them nothing if they did not perform charitable deeds, and warned that if they did not "remember to be charitable" they were "as dross, which the refiners do cast out . . . ." (Alma 34:28-29.)

The written records of these teachings of Paul and Amulek, who spoke so eloquently about charity, contain some of the most beautiful language in all holy writ. But these are more than just beautiful writings. They describe a true follower of Christ. They provide what could be called a divine formula for salvation. The question we ought to ask ourselves is: "How near do we come to following that formula?"

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