The atonement of Jesus Christ is the greatest act of heroism, selflessness and charity the world has ever known. It occurred when Christ, though sinless, allowed himself to bear the sins, pains and sicknesses of all who would ever call the earth home, and then die for them so they could live again.
Charity is the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love. Christ taught charity by his touch and his teachings, "Turn the other cheek," "Go the second mile," "As ye have done it unto one of the least of these ye have done it unto me," "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," "Feed my sheep," "Love one another as I have loved you." Whatever the wording, the message is clear - charity is necessary for true followers of Christ.
Charity is the pure love Christ feels for us and asks us to feel for each other. If you feel outside of God's loving embrace or unable to feel charity for others, start here.
Pray for God's pure love for you; it is a gift he yearns to give. Believe the enlightening feelings you receive.
Ponder the question "What lack I yet?" as did the rich young man. Ask God for help in overcoming weaknesses.
Think loving thoughts about others and pray to love unconditionally.
Commit to relinquish less than charitable habits.
Remember the Savior's example. Christ dined with publicans and sinners, instead of categorizing the lot as unworthy and unclean. He resisted becoming offended when his chief apostle denied knowing him. He lovingly taught a doubting disciple about the reality of the resurrection instead of chiding him for lack of faith.
Act as he would.
Paul details what charity is and is not in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Here are a few suggestions for putting charity into action.
Kindness comes when we remember all are spirit children of God and treat each other as such, by a gentle word, a soft touch, a caring gesture in the home, on the playground, at the workplace.
Jacob of the Old Testament loved his son Joseph more than all his children and made Joseph a coat of many colors. Ten brothers were jealous of Joseph but not Benjamin. Someone with charity is genuinely happy for the success of another.
To vaunt is to have pride; to think our time or possessions are better than another's. When we're late for an appointment or talk during a meeting, we assume our time is more valuable or important. When we brag about our accomplishments or "our stuff," we put ourselves above others. Instead, be considerate, grateful for what you have and have done and thankful to God for his divine help.
Paul taught "knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth" I recently read of a businessman who is world-renowned in his field, respected by his peers and honored by his friends. They describe him as brilliant and successful yet down to earth and a regular guy. Although this man has tremendous knowledge, it has not gone to his head.
Keep your cool
A person exhibiting charity is not easily provoked. A newspaper recently reported that two men got in a fist fight while inside a church; not over doctrine, but over where to sit. The police officer called to the scene arrested one of the men and commented that the incident was preventable if these grown men would have kept their cool. Remaining calm when someone gets under your skin shows that you love the person enough not to take offense.
A person with charity endures, as did the apostle Paul. They fight a good fight through hardships like a prolonged illness, death of a loved one, divorce, miscarriage, job loss or any other thorn in the flesh.
"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." Marvin J. Ashton, public speaker and family advocate.
Rather than waiting for the holiday season to show kindness, let's make service a priority all the year through by understanding and applying charity.