Church News viewpoint: A love that never fails

Of all the attributes of Christ one might seek to emulate, charity appears to be among the greatest to possess. The apostle Paul writes, “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” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:227).

But what exactly is charity and how does one develop it? Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, former Relief Society general president, said, “The pure love of Christ. ... What does this phrase mean? We find part of the answer in Joshua: ‘Take diligent heed ... to love the Lord your God ... and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.’ Charity is our love for the Lord, shown through our acts of service, patience, compassion, and understanding for one another. ...” (“Choosing Charity: That Good Part,” Ensign, November 2003, p. 104).

One learns charity by doing even if at first it doesn’t come naturally. It is a process that evolves into the desired result. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “We are challenged to move through a process of conversion toward that status and condition called eternal life. This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason — for the pure love of Christ.

“The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity. The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, ‘the pure love of Christ’, is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, November 2000, p. 32–34).

To develop this charitable conversion in our hearts, we must diligently seek. How often in our lives is the desire for the development of the gift of charity a heartfelt part of prayer? The ancient prophet Moroni instructs, “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. Wherefore, … pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7:47-48).

As a person thinks back upon his or her own life, he or she might remember specific situations in which a charitable individual had a significant impact. A wonderful friend, self-sacrificing parent or loving spouse may have performed an act of loving charity that will remain forever. To truly know Christ, one must emulate the love He possesses so others can feel His love manifest.

Mark Alden Callister, a BYU communications professor, spoke at a campus devotional and related an experience he, as a BYU-Hawaii freshman, had with President Spencer W. Kimball who taught him how God loves. It occurred on the grounds of the Laie Hawaii Temple.

“As President Kimball passed by, he looked right at me. I recorded in my journal what happened next,” he said. “President Kimball suddenly stopped and turned and headed right for me. The prophet grabbed my hand, gave me a hug, and kissed me on my cheek and then looked me in the eyes and said, ‘I love you.’

“I was overcome with emotion. The only words I was able to get out were thank you. I felt something in that hug and expression of love. I watched him through my tears as he climbed into an awaiting car. He looked through the window at us with such pure and loving eyes and waved good-bye as he drove away.

“I then ran behind the temple and had a good cry. Yes, I felt President Kimball’s love for me, but his love pointed to the wellspring from which it flowed. I felt an outpouring of my Heavenly Father’s love for me, so real and so clear” (“Lost and Found,” Oct. 2014, BYU Speeches).

An individual, family or society enriched by the love of Christ can bring down blessings of incredible value from heaven. Professor Mario Beauregard of Montreal University’s center for research into neurophysiology and cognition, led a study about the effects of love on the brain. He said, “The rewarding nature of unconditional love facilitates the creation of strong emotional links. Such robust bonds may critically contribute to the survival of the human species”(“The Greatest Love of All,”, April 2009).

President Thomas S. Monson said, “There is a serious need for the charity that gives attention to those who are unnoticed, hope to those who are discouraged, aid to those who are afflicted. True charity is love in action. The need for charity is everywhere.

“Needed is the charity which refuses to find satisfaction in hearing or in repeating the reports of misfortunes that come to others, unless by so doing, the unfortunate one may be benefited. The American educator and politician Horace Mann once said, ‘To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike.’

“Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others”(“Charity Never Faileth,” October 2010 general conference).

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