I have to give a lot of credit to Caroline at The Exponent for helping me with the direction of my lesson, as well as all of the wonderful online resources at www.LDS.org - it's so wonderful to have such treasures at our fingertips!
Reflecting back on your life, what is the most charitable act you have ever done or received?
What words come to mind when you think of charity?
Charity envelops both sides of the spectrum – both action and attitude.
How Can We Become Charitable? (from the Gospel Principles manual)
One way we can become charitable is by studying what Jesus Christ did in certain situations and do the same things when we are in similar of situations.
Second, when we have uncharitable feelings, we can pray to have them taken away.
Third, we can learn to love ourselves. The Savior taught that we must love others as we love ourselves (see Matthew 22:39). To love ourselves, we must respect and trust ourselves. This means that we must be obedient to the principles of the gospel. We must repent of any wrongdoings. We must forgive ourselves when we have repented. We will come to love ourselves only when we can feel the deep, comforting assurance that the Savior truly loves us.
Fourth, as we love ourselves, our love for others will increase. We will not think we are better than other people. We will have patience with their faults.
A PERSON FILLED WITH THE LOVE OF GOD IS ANXIOUS TO BLESS OTHERS
“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.”
How does this statement fit into the columns we created on the board?
Is it just a state of mind – ATTITUDE?
Or does it require us to take ACTION?
Why do you think that a person filled with the love of God wants to bless all mankind?
Ether 12:33-34: And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men.
And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.
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.
Jesus Christ is the perfect example of charity. In His mortal ministry, He always “went about doing good,” teaching the gospel, and showing tender compassion for the poor, afflicted, and distressed (see Matthew 4:23; Mark 6:6; Acts 10:38). His crowning expression of charity was His infinite Atonement. This was the greatest act of long-suffering, kindness, and selflessness that we will ever know.
The Atonement was the greatest act of pure Charity. In sacrificing ourselves in some way for others, we are emulating the Savior’s sacrifice for us.
WE HAVE A SPECIAL OBLIGATION TO LOVE AND CARE FOR THOSE IN NEED
“It is a duty which every Saint ought to render to his brethren freely—to always love them, and ever succor them. To be justified before God we must love one another: we must overcome evil; we must visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world; for such virtues flow from the great fountain of pure religion [see James 1:27].”
WHAT ARE SOME RESPONSIBILITIES WE HAVE IN CARING FOR THOSE IN NEED?
(Create a new “ACTION” list based on classroom input.)
How do these responsibilities relate to people’s temporal needs?
Food, clothing, money, etc.
How do they relate to spiritual needs?
Lessens their worry/stress.
Creates a sense of hope.
Even if the action provided seems purely temporal, the act of serving/sacrificing shows love which can edify the spirit of those to whom we are tending.
“[A member of the Church] is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all, wherever he finds them.”
It says ‘a member of the church’ rather than ‘The Church’, so charity is an individual responsibility. It’s up to us to do all these things on a personal level – we can’t rely on the Church to always organize us and point us towards service opportunities.
His vision is expansive towards showing charity to EVERYONE – Mormon or not. This is something that’s very important for us as Christians to think more about – how to show charity to those who live outside our LDS communities.
CHARITY IS LONG-SUFFERING, MERCIFUL, AND KIND
1 Corinthians 13:4-7: 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 is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another. It is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul (see 1 Nephi 11:23).
“…Don’t be limited in your views with regard to your neighbor’s virtue, but beware of self-righteousness, and be limited in the estimate of your own virtues, and not think yourselves more righteous than others; you must enlarge your souls towards each other, if you would do like Jesus, and carry your fellow-creatures to Abraham’s bosom.”
Why do you think we should “beware of self-righteousness, and be limited in the estimate of [our] own virtues”?
We may decline to help someone because we think their suffering is a deserved consequence.
We have been cautioned that we should not judge others lest we be judged ourselves:
Moroni 7:18: And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the alight by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
“…As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you increase in goodness, let your hearts expand, let them be enlarged towards others; you must be long-suffering, and bear with the faults and errors of mankind. How precious are the souls of men!
What do you think it means to enlarge our hearts and souls toward each other?
Elder Marvin J. Ashton: “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.”
Bonnie D. Parkin: “In exercising charity, we come to know a sister’s heart. When we know a sister’s heart, we are different. We won’t judge her. We will simply love her. I invite you to not only love each other more but love each other better. As we do this we will come to know with a surety that ‘charity never faileth.’”
We gain a greater capacity to love
We gain greater insight to what others need and how me may serve them
We are blessed with greater patience toward others
“…The power and glory of godliness is spread out on a broad principle to throw out the mantle of charity… The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.
What can we do to grow in our appreciation of others’ virtues?
Pray for insight, understanding, etc.
Always try to find the good qualities in others; be willing to overlook the flaws.
WE EXPRESS CHARITY THROUGH SIMPLE ACTS OF SERVICE AND KINDNESS
“When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.
In what ways can we apply this teaching as we interact with others?
Be kind on the roadways – let other drivers into traffic, etc.
Give a smile to a grumpy person.
Be a “Boy Scout,” offering small favors like holding a door or helping someone carry things to their car.
“Joseph and Emma had the sick brought to their house and took care of them there. And they continued to have them brought as fast as they were taken down until their house, which consisted of four rooms, was so crowded that they were under the necessity of spreading a tent in the yard for the reception of that part of the family who were still on their feet. Joseph and Emma devoted their whole time and attention to the care of the sick during this time of distress.”
I don’t open up my home to the sick and sleep out in my backyard to give the sick more space. Life today seems so much less community oriented and more compartmentalized than life was back in Nauvoo. The sick go to hospitals, the poor go to shelters, etc.
But are there opportunities like this out there and should we be trying to seek them out? Is it even feasible in this day and age?
This type of charity towards strangers probably isn’t as feasible today as it was then, although opportunities are out there (consider families that opened their homes to Hurricane Katrina victims for weeks and months).
What is possible is opening ourselves to vulnerability on some level. We can all extend ourselves a bit and put ourselves in a position of vulnerability in order to try to help.
Just offering a smile to the homeless man is opening ourselves up.
Or calling someone who is struggling and offering to watch their kids might open us up to rejection.
One way to overcome some of our fears and vulnerabilities is to work together in charitable causes, join volunteer organizations. Nothing is as scary when you’re not alone.
Regarding the topic of guilt and discouragement, Sister Chieko Okazaki also brings up this point when she talks about charity. She says, “Sometimes we get discouraged because the needs in the world around us seem so great and our resources seem so few. We think, “We’re not doing enough. We can’t do enough. Nobody could do enough.” When we think like that, we focus on what is left undone, and we lose the joy that comes with service… We can do great good when we work as a united sisterhood, as long as we don’t burden ourselves with unrealistic expectations that rob us of the joy of achievement.”
As you review the stories from the lesson, ponder your feelings toward the Prophet Joseph Smith.
What do these stories teach about him?
“I am your servant, and it is only through the Holy Ghost that I can do you good… We do not present ourselves before you as anything but your humble servants, willing to spend and be spent in your service.”
In what ways do you think his actions influenced the people around him?
Reflecting back on your life, what is the most charitable act you have ever done or received?
The Savior wants all people to receive His love and to share it with others. He declared to His disciples: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34–35). In relationships with family members and others, followers of Christ look to the Savior as their example and strive to love as He loves, with unfailing compassion, patience, and mercy.
“Keep the commandments of God – all that he has given, does give, or will give, and an halo of glory will shine around your path; the poor will rise up and call you blessed; you will be honored and respected by all good men; and your path will be that of the just, which shineth brighter and brighter until the perfect day [see Proverbs 4:18].”