This is a week-end devotional post on the love of Christ.
- But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
- whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
- whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away
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 profits me nothing.
The love of Christ is another term for Charity, which is defined as the pure love of Christ.
Though everything else will fail, still the Lord has promised us that there will yet remain “faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
- So, what is charity?
- How does it relate to Christ?
- How do we act so that we express and encompass Charity?
What is Charity?
When I was younger, I began to look at just what the love of Christ meant from how it acts, how it fits in our lives. That led me to a different definition of what charity is than you might expect. I was looking at where charity fit and what it meant to each person who might seek it.
I started where I read where Paul taught:
We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
Paul was stating that knowledge tended to make us proud, to keep us from what we need to know, while Charity edified or made us what we needed to be, and that charity led us to know God, because we were known by God.
Paul, and other apostles were fond of talking about how we would be known of God and that we would learn what we were to become, what we truly were, by encountering the Spirit of God. How the Spirit of God would make us like God.
Thus in 1 John 3:2.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Or 1 Cor 13: 12.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
In that context, the striking part is that by loving God, and by showing God’s love to others, we are known of God, and that by being known of God we come to know God.
Which means that charity’s place in our lives is that charity is the key to being known by God and to knowing God. It is by learning Charity, learning love, we become like God.
So while in definition charity may mean “loving kindness” or “tender kindness” in action, in our lives, charity is the key to salvation, because it is the method by which we become like God.
So, how does Charity relate to Christ?
In my own life, when our daughter Jessica was sick, she was transferred to a hospital in Fort Worth. That left us with two other small children in the home. A babysitter we had used told us that since the other children had been exposed to their sister, they were not welcome.
A family friend, Kathy Warnock, called my wife, said that she had nine children who had been exposed to everything under the sun, and that she would gladly take in our other two children while I had work and my wife went to be with our daughter. She kept them until family was able to come in from out of town to help.
That was Christlike love and charity realized in our lives.
Realizing that charity is the key to being like our Heavenly Father and that “charity is the pure love of Christ,” means that charity is how we become like Christ. It is how we learn Christ’s will and participate in Christ’s work. It is how we become his children and are reborn through him.
The atonement is the great focus of the charity of Christ towards us. Charity is a spiritual power that comes through Christ, and thus is connected to Christ in an intrinsic way.
In his great sermon, the Prophet Mormon brought together the lessons I’ve talked about so far that were taught by many Prophets and Apostles. He said:
39 But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church.
40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
45 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.
46 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—
47 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.
48 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.
That is how Charity relates to Christ. It is the culmination of faith and hope in Christ. It is what makes us true followers of Christ and that makes us like him, to see him as he is, to be purified as he is pure and to be saved.
So what do we do, where does Charity take us, how do we express Charity?
In the Book of Matthew in the New Testament, Christ’s sermon on this point is recorded. Christ said:
31 ¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Christ was clear that it was the expression of charity, of loving kindness, in our lives that was key to salvation. That he did not care what people called him, or what they thought they knew, but how they expressed his love, his tender mercy, to others.
Thus he said:
46 ¶And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
And Christ also taught:
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 ¶Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
So what are we to do, what does this mean?
It becomes clear that:
But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away
But Charity never faileth.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
We must be kind. We must avoid vaunting ourselves up, avoid pride in our knowledge and our selves, but instead if we wish to know God, to be like Christ and to be purified by him and be saved in the kingdom of God, we must:
- Feed the hungry.
- Administer to the sick.
- Reach out to the impoverished and to strangers.
- Visit those in prison, those who have brought disaster upon themselves by their own actions and who are without merit.
For we are without merit sufficient for salvation and are saved only by Christ reaching out to us in our sins. Which means that to be like Christ we must also reach out in kindness and love to others, who lack sufficient merit to deserve it.
And that is what the love of Christ means and that why Paul would say: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
In our lives, and in our salvation, there is nothing greater than the love of Christ.