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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Charity: Practicing What We Preach

I've been contemplating what I should write about this last week, and nothing had really stood out to me. However, today I've realized that every day these last couple weeks, the theme of charity has pricked my conscious in some way or another. I've noticed how quick Stephen was to babysit his nephews when his sister in-law was in town, or how happy he was to drop me off and pick me up from an 8AM appointment for eyelash extensions in Pleasant Grove (ah, the obligations of a comedian (: ), or how willing and eager he is to help others in the ward (his ward calling is the co-chair of the service committee, and I think they picked the right man for the job). I've also noticed how quick Stephen is to love me, both in word and deed, regardless of how crabby I might be. I've brought this up to him, and he hasn't even realized it's a "thing" he does, he just does it. I wish I could have that natural disposition regarding gospel action and not just gospel study. It's a lot easier for me to read talks about charity and to write in this blog, but then to live it, that's a different matter for me. I'm afraid this is one trait I'll have to learn the hard way, so I thought I'd share my learnings with you.
Slowly over the course of this week, I've been praying more and more for charitable characteristics. Today, I prayed for motivation to obtain those characteristics, and--what would you know?--the Lord answered it! I've been reading several talks that have lit this fire, the first being Marlin K. Jensen's talk, "Loving with the Spirit and with the Understanding." The second is J. Richard Clarke's "Choice--The Crucible of Character." This last talk had a quote in it that shook me up, which I will share here:

There is in our society a subtle and pernicious philosophy that leaves a wake of distress and makes a mockery of the divine gift of agency. I believe it to be satanic in origin and the enemy of righteousness. It can be expressed in four simple words: “I can’t help myself.” Dr. William Lee Wilbanks, professor of criminal justice at Florida International University, refers to this philosophy as: the new obscenity”—obscene, he says, “because it is offensive to the core concept of humanity . . . [denying] the very quality that makes us human and not simply animals.”

This idea took hold of me. I am not a creature of circumstance, but a creator. Then, in Relief Society today, we talked even more about charity. My section of seats was asked to analyze the much quoted scripture Moroni 7:45
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.
The first thing that hit me was that this is a long list! And it's mostly full of traits that I rarely have a mastery over. But then someone else brought up that we are so blessed to have such a broad trait broken up into a list.
  • Suffereth long
  • Kind
  • Envieth not
  • Not puffed up
  • Seeketh not her own
  • Not easily provoked
  • Thinketh no evil
  • Rejoiceth not in iniquity but in truth
  • Beareth all things
  • Believeth all things
  • Hopeth all things
  • Endureth all things
After looking at all of these traits, I realized the concept of charity is much easier to accomplish when broken up into smaller goals. So I'm going to try to work on one of these traits each week and then write about it. Anyone who wants to follow along can do so.

Now, obviously, this trait is framed with the requirements long-suffering and endurance because it does not come naturally to us, but it is the most important trait to obtain. It will build our character into one more like Christ's. As J. Richard Clarke said, “Character is the power to act upon principle—the discipline to follow through with resolutions long after the spirit in which they were made has passed. As another writer states: 'In the crisis of temptation, in the battle of life, when struggle comes from within or without, it is our strength, heroism, virtue and constancy—our character—which defends and secures our happiness and honor.'” Charity is something we must work at, everyday, and "with all the energy of heart."

So next week, I'll post which trait I'm going to start on, write my research about it, and then the week after that, I'll write my results, and the trait I'm working on for the next week, and so on. Got it?

A bit of a hub post for the next couple weeks, but I'm excited. And I'm excited to be excited about something so intimidating. (:

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