Thursday, September 24, 2009

Charity = Love in Action

For awhile now, I've been reading Larry Barkdull's series on Meridian Magazine about becoming a Zion person. Frequently he leaves me much to ponder. The latest installment surely did. He wrote:

"Charity transforms a natural man into a sactified Saint - a Zionperson - someone who by nature seeks to comfort the downtrodden, redeem the oppressed, heal the sick and afflicted, and console the brokenhearted.

"If charity is the defining characteristic of Jesus Christ, it is also the defining characteristic of His people. When they, like their Master, encounter need, they confront it. They will not allow lack and suffering to exist in their presence. They are willing to consecrate all that they are and have to blessing the suffering and underpriviledged. For this reason, consecration, the foundational law of Zion, has no need to legislated; consecration, like charity, is a condition of the heart.

"Jesus gave us two tests of charity:

1. If ye love me, keep my commandments. (see John 14:15)
2. If ye love me, feed my sheep. (see John 21:16)"

And then a couple of paragraphs later...

"Keeping and feeding are to stand proxy for the Savior and do as He would do if He were present."

Still later he quoted President Hinckley, "One of the greatest challenges we face in our hurried, self-centered lives is to follow the counsel of the Master, to take the time and make the effort to care for others, to develop and exercise the one quality that would enable us to change the lives of others -- what the scriptures call charity... Best defined, charity is that pure love exemplified by Jesus Christ. It embraces kindness, a reaching out to lift and help, the sharing of one's bread, if need be."

It gives me pause to think about how I'm doing and what selfish attitudes and habits I need to rid from my life. That was most especially a prominent question in my mind when I came to his quote from Joseph F. Smith... "we may give without loving, but we cannot love without giving." I think I'm pretty much kind and giving and willing to help others, but I also will admit to walking past the transient on the street begging for change while wishing that he weren't there and in some ways condemning the choices that led him to that point. That's a situation I'm not really sure how to handle... It appears that many people doing this have made it a conscious lifestyle decision and often it seems they are preying on the rest of us to feel a little squeamish about walking past them without handing out some change. It's hard to leave someone truly in need, but panhandling has become so common that it's hard not to be cynical and wonder if the need is real or just a show. I guess I need to spend more time examining my own soul about this one.

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