What is charity?

We tend to think of charity as a list of behaviors, and it is true that there are several lists of traits that accompany a description of charity. But that list of traits is like a list describing the Son of God. Listing ten or so traits of the Christ doesn’t capture the living being and his perfection, his wisdom, his knowledge of all things past, present, and future. Such lists are useful for describing charity, just as they are useful to give us an initial sense of who the Savior is. But they are merely the beginning of a sketch, a silhouette, of the reality. They are accurate, but terribly incomplete.

A man has charity insofar as he has the Holy Ghost. Period.

Insofar as the Holy Ghost is the driving principle in a man or woman’s life, that person will act and feel by the pure love of Christ. That is because Christ’s Father’s will, as manifested to Christ through the Holy Ghost, was the driving principle in all of Christ’s actions.

And if the Holy Ghost can inspire ones actions, it can inspire ones sympathies and emotions – for it is harder to get a man to do something, which requires effort, than to get him to merely feel something. It is harder to get a man to give to the poor, than to convince him that the poor are in need. Joseph

We have the pure love of Christ insofar as we are one with the Father as Christ was one with his Father. And the only means that we can obtain any degree of such a oneness is by companionship with a member of that same Godhead. It is only through the Holy Ghost that we can become, in some small measure, one with the Father and the Son. And it is only insofar as we are one with the Father and the Son that we have the same love that the Son has.

Our generation knows nothing about love at all above and beyond a show of emotion. And that is what they desire the pure of of Christ to be – all mushiness and no substance. They want it to be a love that embraces sin without concern for the consequences to the sinner or to those around him.

But the pure love of Christ delights not in iniquity.

Our generation wants to claim that they love God, but have no interest in devoting their lives to asking, seeking, and knocking – drinking deeply from the fountainhead of the truth found in the scriptures.

But the pure love of Christ delights in the truth.

Those who have the pure love of Christ are those who can speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus Abinadi, being burned alive by wicked king Noah and his priests showed the pure love of Christ as he prophesied of their destuction while the flames began to lick him.

The pure love of Christ is usually described as a love of one man for all other men.  But it is a love first of God, and secondarily of our fellow men. To have the pure love of Christ must, necessarily, love God with all one’s heart, might, mind and strength, and secondarily love one’s neighbor as oneself.

And if the pure love of Christ is first a love of God, one must ask how God measures our love for him. For it is of no more moment that a wilting blade of grass to know how man measures his own love for God. What matters when it comes to divine blessings is to know how God measures man’s love for God. And we have a clear statement by the Son of God himself on the matter:

John 14: 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me

There we have it. A statement by God of how he knows what love a man has for God.

Returning back to charity – charity is the pure love of Christ. Charity is to have the same moving principle in oneself that Christ himself did. That is made possible in us through the gift of the Holy Ghost. Insofar as we have the Holy Ghost we are to that degree one with the Father and the Son, and are moved as they are moved, and know and do what they know and would do. Unlike Christ, we only keep the commandment to receive the Holy Ghost by measure.

John 3: 34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

Therefore we only gain charity by measure as well. But the Spirit God gave to his Son without measure is available to us as well, and insofar as we have it we have the pure love of Christ.

Charity is not just a love of man. It is the pure love Christ had, which was first and foremost, a love of his Father and a willingness to submit his will to the will of his Father. It is, secondarily to that, a love of one’s neighbor as oneself. Christ measure’s our own love for the Father by the degree to which we keep his commandments.

To have charity, we must not do those things which offend the Holy Ghost. The scriptures say that if we will deny ourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all our might, mind, and strength then his grace is sufficient to make us perfect in Christ.

May we live to have the Holy Ghost. May we deny ourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all our might, mind, and strength, by keeping his commandments with all our might, mind and strength. Then charity will not be a checklist of traits we are worried about checking off, nor it will be made in the image of the world. In fact, it may well be repulsive to the world, as Christ himself was, and as his prophets have been, for certainly they had true charity, and the world hated them and slew them for it. If true charity looked like something the world approved of, these righteous men who most possessed it would not have died.

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