How can we be more charitable?
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He taught in word and deed how to be more charitable. In modern days, we often think of charity in terms of giving to those in need. But Christ taught that charity is more than that, it is the pure love that God has for the children of men, and that we should have for one another. The Apostle Paul taught,
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 never faileth (KJV 1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
While giving to others is a manifestation of charity, charity itself is a state of being, not an action. It is a beginning point through which all of our actions should flow. It is because of the pure love that Christ has for us that He taught people, performed miracles and suffered and died for the sins of all mankind.
Because of Charity, We Love Others
Charity is the pure love of Christ. But how can we manifest it in our everyday lives? The Bible teaches, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (KJV Galatians 5:14). Charity encompasses all other divine attributes that flow from it. The Apostle Paul said, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a good heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (KJV 1 Timothy 1:5). The key is charity out of a good heart, with pure motives and a good conscience.
Perhaps the greatest lesson the Savior gave on charity was the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by thieves, robbed, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest walked by and later a Levite; both were supposed to be righteous men yet would not stop and help this person in need. Then a Samaritan came along and stopped to help. This Samaritan not only bound the man’s wounds and gave him water, he also took the wounded man to an inn and paid the innkeeper to nurse the wounded man back to health. (See KJV Luke 10:30-36.)
One aspect of this parable that is often overlooked is the animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Good Samaritan knew that the wounded man was a Jew but did not hesitate to help him anyway—without question, without judgment and without expecting anything in return.
Because of Charity, We Teach of Christ
Charity rejoices in truth and the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul taught the Corinthians, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (KJV 1 Corinthians 8:1).
The Savior came to the earth with a mission and a ministry. His mission was to perform His Atonement, which would allow us to repent from our sins. Born of a mortal mother and a Heavenly Father, Christ was the only one who could lay down His life and take it up again. (See KJV John 10:14-18.) Through His Atonement, Christ took the sting out of death and made temporary the grief of the grave. (See KJV 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.) No matter how much money a person has, no other person could save another soul, not even his own (KJV Matthew 19:24-26). Jesus Christ offered His sacrifice “once and for all” (KJV Hebrews 10:10).
His ministry was to serve as an example for us through His exemplary life. This includes:
- His teachings, parables and sermons.
- His loving kindness and long-suffering toward the children of men.
- His miracles, such as raising Lazarus from the dead (KJV John 11:1- 45) and healing the woman who had suffered for many years with a blood issue (KJV Luke 8:43-48).
- His righteous indignation when He overthrew the tables of the moneychangers. (See KJV Matthew 21:12).
- His condemnation of sin (KJV Romans 8:3).
- His heartaches, including Judas’s betrayal and Paul’s denial of Him. (See KJV John 18:2-3, 25-27.)
We teach of Christ because He is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Because of Christ, all mankind who will obey the commandments and follow Him can be redeemed from sin. But to follow Christ, one must be taught of Him.
Because of Charity, We Serve Others
St. Francis of Assisi is attributed as saying, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” When Christ was on the earth, He loved and served those around Him. As the parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates, serving others requires that we look beyond our own needs to the needs of those around us. And not just our friends, but even those whom we may resent or look down upon. Christ taught,
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (KJV Matthew 5:43-44).
How we treat others is an indication of our love for the Savior. True, Christlike love looks past the outer shell of a person to his or her heart. The miracle of the loaves and the fishes came about because the Savior could see the people He was teaching were hungry but wanted to stay and hear Him. So He took the seven loaves of bread and few fishes, and blessed it, and that small amount of food fed 5,000 people. (See KJV Matthew 15:29-39.) We, too, can look for the needs of those around us. It can be as small as visiting with a neighbor or smiling at another person in a grocery store. But, as the Savior taught, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (KJV Matthew 25:40).
Because of Charity, We Forgive
The Savior taught that we are required to forgive. Not just once or twice, but “until seventy times seven” (KJV Matthew 18:22). And Christ illustrated this with a parable. There was a king whose servant owed him 10,000 talents, but the servant didn’t have the money to pay it. The king was about to take away everything this servant had and sell him and his wife and children, but the servant begged for mercy. The king had compassion on his servant and forgave the debt. The servant, however, was owed an hundred pence by another of the king’s servants. The fellowservant couldn’t pay and begged for mercy. But the servant, whose own huge debt had been forgiven, would not extend the same mercy and had his fellowservant thrown in prison.
When the king heard of the hypocrisy of the servant whose large debt had been forgiven, he was angry. Said the king to the wicked servant, “Should not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” (KJV Matthew 18:33). Then the king delivered the servant to the tormentors until the debt was paid. (See KJV Matthew 18:23-35.)
The Savior taught,
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses (KJV Matthew 18:35).
Charity is Christlike Love
True charity is loving others with a pure heart, without judgment. The Savior went to people where they lived, where they struggled. He taught them in ways they could understand. He reached out to those who were in need, and didn’t turn any away, even when He was exhausted. If we want to be more charitable, we must become more like the Savior.