Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Charity Never Faileth

One of my favorite scriptures reads, "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" (1 Cor. 13: 2). According to this, Paul is saying having charity is more important than having faith. An interesting thing to say because, according to mainstream Christianity, faith in Christ is all that is necessary to qualify for salvation. So, if charity is so important; what is it exactly?

The modern definition of charity seems to revolve around altruism and giving to the poor. However, Paul goes on to say, "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 profiteth me nothing (1 Cor. 13: 3). So, according to Paul, mearly giving to the poor isn't enough. Despite its modern meaning, charity isn't in the giving of the gift, but selfless service is necessary to develop it.

Paul then gives the real definition of charity in the following verses. He says, "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.

Other versions of this verse read, "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or arrogant. It is not rude, it is not self‑seeking, it is not easily angered, it is not resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." Reminds me of Christ's Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet, sums it up by saying, "charity is the pure love of Christ" (Moro. 7: 47).

Paul goes on to say, "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away." What does Paul mean when he says that all things shall fail except charity? Well, there will come a time in heaven when there will be no more need for the gift of tongues because we will all speak the same language. In heaven, there will be no need for knowledge because we will have access to all truth and the perfect ability to comprehend and remember it. And, there will come a time in heaven when we won't need faith, because we will have a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ because we will live with him. So, what is left? Love is left. Love is the greatest and most enduring power of the Universe.

John says, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (1 Jn. 4: 8, 16). John teaches in another place that, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17: 3). Therefore, what John is saying is that if a person is not filled with love or charity, that he knoweth not God, or cannot have Eternal Life. We can only know God if we are filled with his love. Faith in Christ is necessary for salvation but the gift of pure love is necessary for Eternal Life.

Salvation from hell without exaltation is still damnation. Paul speaks of being caught up to see the third heaven and of the dead being raised at the resurrection to the glory of the sun (1 Cor. 15: 41)(2 Cor. 12: 2). In the highest degree of heaven, exalted souls who are filled with the pure love of Christ, will increase in knowledge and power (eternal progression) until they become like God. Let's not set our sites on mearly being saved from hell. After obtaining faith in Christ, we should diligently seek after charity.

What can we do to be filled with the pure love of Christ? Moroni in the Book of Mormon teaches, "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 (Moro. 7: 47)

Who are the true followers of "his Son" or Jesus Christ. Christ tells us himself, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13: 35).

Christ also taught, "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. 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:" (Matt. 7: 23).

Christ is not criticizing the wicked for good works. They don't have any works. Mearly prophesying (professing Christ) and casting out devils is not the works God is looking for. God wants us to do real good works. He doesn't want us to mearly talk a good talk. He says the wise man not only heareth but also "doeth them." Christ smmarizes the works he reqires to be filled with his love necessary for Eternal Life:

"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: 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: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 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" (Matt. 25: 38, 44). These are the works which will help generate the love of God in us (through the grace of Christ).

Other great scriptures:
James 1: 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

1 Tim. 1: 5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

James 2: 14-26 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. . . Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?. . . Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Gal. 2: 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law (law of Moses), but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law (law of Moses): for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Gal. 3: 24 Wherefore the law (law of Moses) was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

It seems that these last verses are contradictory. I don't think so at all. I think Paul is teaching that we can do nothing without the Grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ. Remeber also that he is teaching against observance to the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses does not justify. But we are still required to keep the Law of Christ.

Gal. 6: 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. . . And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Mormoni promises that if we pray and work to be filled with the pure love of Christ 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" (Moro. 7: 47).


Anonymous said...

My friend pointed me to our blog toe write a talk on Charity. Thanks for the help.

THe Gal. verses often troubled me as I tried to understand what was trying to be said. I learned that Paul is trying to tell the people that the actions of the Law f Moses will not get them t heaven. We mst rely n r faith in Christ. The people are having a very difficult time giving p their habits of Moses and they are nwilling to accept those new converts wh are not living the Law.

Anonymous said...

Very good piece.

I'm not convinced that Paul was saying charity is more important than faith though. It seems more like he's saying that faith without charity can't save you. That doesn't mean charity is more important, only that it is an essential ingredient.

To put it another way, if you had all charity, but had not faith, would that be enough?

The Pea said...

Wow, I loved your words. thank you for putting it out here for me to find in my goggle search engine today. I am giving an enrichment night lesson tomorrow on this topic and you have given me allot to think about.

Anonymous said...

this is soo without charity,i didnt even no what that means before but know i do.:)

dr babs said...

Thank you very much for your insight on the topics of charity and faith.

dave said...

I have begun to view "charity never faileth" as a problem solving strategy. In other words, when you are trying to accomplish something and nothing works, try charity--it never fails. Or better yet, but just start with it. Approaching a problem, particularly an interpersonal problem, with love and charity has been so much more effective at solving the problem than coming at it with logic or power tripping like I may be more inclined to do. I have been amazed at how often I will listen more which leads to solutions or how I'll think to say something I would never have thought of.

Anonymous said...

In searching this topic for a sacrament talk I'm preparing for I found your blog. Thank You, for some great insight. I will be returning here often to read more!

Anonymous said...

Same here! Im impressed with the well-written article! Im preparing this lesson too. Im excited to share what i've learned. More power to you dear blogger. Keep up the good works!

Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger, thank you so much for the insights! It helped me prepare my Sunday message. God bless you with more understanding and inspiration from the Holy Ghost as you try to explain further in layman's terms the principles that are found in the scriptures.