Let me repeat. Charity NEVER Faileth . . .
In our quest for Zion, Charity may be our number one weapon both personally and collectively. Here’s what Paul said about it (essentially mirrored by Moroni) in 1 Corinthians 13:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 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.
3 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.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 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.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Charity is everything in forming Zion. Charity is the key to knowledge (along with meekness) to discerning truth from error.
Faith is the first part of the exercise for individual salvation. Faith IN and through Jesus Christ, understanding His character, motives, and intentions is the first step . . . but for some people, they are smitten with unbelief and faith fails them. For others, they have the next step, hope. Hope comes after faith has been tested and the Power of God has been made manifest to at least some extent in a person’s life. Hope then becomes the wellspring that can be counted on for the person to continue following the Words of Christ unto Eternal Life. Yet even with hope the vicissitudes of life can overwhelm our patience and set us back.
Charity can overcome the setbacks that a person may encounter with either faith or hope. When you practice charity, it may not even matter if you believe–there are agnostics that can exhibit many of the principles of charity which literally calls down the Grace of God to overcome any obstacle from which you may be suffering. Stumbling blocks are removed, forgiveness is granted, unbelief is destroyed, hope is made perfect, and ultimately, if one has not had the Baptism of Fire and the Second Comforter, those things are promised through charity.
Since I like to write about practical things, and these topics are often very abstract, let me drill this one down for you.
Charity can be practiced in a few ways.
- Denying not the beggar – I’ve discussed this before, but it is the starting point for any discussion about charity because our Western minds gravitate towards charity as the term for “helping the poor and disadvantaged.” But let me take it a step further. One may give a dollar to a man, but to give a dollar with love, with kindness, with care, and with taking a few minutes to show love, that is a thing a beauty. There is a clip on youtube that I saw a few month ago that showcases this perfectly. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0gA2mxbjSY]Notice the look on the beggar’s face after the surprise that he gets from these three helpers. He is puzzled and bewildered, but touched as well. His heart changed a little from the kindness showed him by three strangers. I know of a ministry of remnant Mormons, anonymously, who visit some very shady places where the homeless hang out. They go down not just to feed them soup, give them a meal, or a handout. This isn’t a “shelter program.” Instead, they meet with them on their terms, in their “homes” on the sidewalk and spend time talking to them, getting to know them, loving them. Yes money is exchanged, but that’s almost beside the point. Several of them have been healed by the laying on of hands. Sicknesses and injuries where there is no money to fix have been healed by the Power of God. The next time you think about what kind of charity needs to be practiced by those aspiring to Zion, I want to call attention to their unsung example.
- Loving Thy Neighbor as Thyself – And who is your neighbor? Jesus gave a parable on this, and it certainly isn’t the person who lives next door. To put it in today’s context, it is a Christian who has the opportunity to serve a gay couple (think less wedding cakes and more fixing a blown tire on the side of the road), or as what happened to us last weekend, helping a Mexican family find their drunk husband and father who had wandered off in the city park–even though we didn’t speak Spanish. We ought to show genuine care and kindness for anybody that comes in our path, whether they have tattoos and piercings, or wear garments with stiff necks.The Boy Scout virtues apply here.
- Forgiveness, Praying for our Enemies – We answered who our neighbor is, but who is our enemy? While it may be a distant political leader that doesn’t share your persuasions, I suggest that it’s more likely a mother, a father, a spouse, a fellowship member, or anyone with whom you have had a falling out over one thing or another, justified or not. Injustice is never an excuse not to forgive. Neither is pain. If you are struggling with answers to prayers or with an endowment from the Lord, may I suggest you check your heart for an “enemy” that needs your mercy, forgiveness, and prayers. From the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, we find these gems:
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
44 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;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
- Praying for Zion – The last example of charity I wish to discuss is one I have learned recently as I have sought blessings from the Lord. I often feel compelled in my instruction from the Spirit to pray for my fellowship groups, for long periods of time, extending my heart until it will break for a brother or sister. The prayers are intense and personal. Usually they are accompanied by an outpouring of love from the Spirit. What this does is prepare me to accept their needs and wants in my life to be above my own. If we are ever to achieve Zion, it must be so. I believe the reason I feel compelled to pray and love my group more intensely than any other group I associate with, including my extended family, is that we are all willing, our hearts are broken and ready . . . to receive the Lord. I believe charity to this group is where the Power of Zion can be found.
If Anything will Doom us . . .
As I’ve talked about charity, and meekness, I have cased other forums, Facebook, etc. where I have seen anti-charity and hard hearts, particularly over the discussions of gay rights and plural marriage. We can all agree the Church doesn’t have Priesthood keys, we can break bread over that, but we will break off fellowships, destroy the peace of others, and otherwise create contention over a hard-fought position on a thing. We may even have some revelation to back up our position–whether it’s of the right source or not. Some of us are well-learned and we lean upon the understanding of the world–science and historical consensus–to inform our opinions and it lifts us up past the fog of the simpletons to declare our position as sound. We need to stop all such nonsense and re-establish our positions as one that knows NOTHING. Only then can the Lord teach us His ways.
There are even some who wish to co-opt this movement from the beginning. We ought to flesh that out as unsound and wrong. The statements Denver Snuffer has made on plural marriage ought to suffice for the attention given to that thing IF you are a Zion seeker. No . . . it’s not because he’s impervious to error as a servant of the Lord . . . it’s because he’s right . . . we need to focus on our own personal attention to the principles of repentance, finding a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and coming unto Christ in a way that can soothe our feelings and iron our errors so we CAN come into a unity of the faith. The Grand Key of Discernment will teach us that this is right.
I declare this as truth at least to me–anyone who sets up stakes BEFORE they are redeemed will a) never be redeemed and b) most likely turn out to be an agent of the adversary before it’s all over. There is a group of folks out there who have had an idea about what would happen when the Lord would begin rising up servants to cleanse the Church. This has been informed over decades as a core doctrine. I imagine the Zealots in the time of Christ when they began seeing the signs. They expected one things, and got another. When that promised political delivery didn’t happen, many ceased walking with the Lord at that time. When Denver Snuffer began his testimony and lectures, there was much hope imbued upon him to be the guy who was going to “set the Church in order.” He has perhaps tacked to a different path on this issue than many have hoped. Some have ceased to walk with the remnant at that time. I cannot help but notice the shift in some of the forums that declared Denver to be a false prophet right after the polygamy talk. At least they were honest to their own stakes, but many haven’t been as transparent about their change of heart. They ought to be.
Others have read deep into his talks to find the silver lining of the future reality of polygamy. I wish we would not do this. I reminds me of when Joseph Smith publicly declared that he was against polygamy, but then was teaching it in private (as the historical record describes), or when Wilford Woodruff declared that polygamy was suspended, gave his infamous statement about the prophet not being able to lead the Church astray, and then STILL authorized polygamous marriages in secret. When one “seeks deep,” I an reminded of this scripture in Isaiah:
“Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”
If anything has brought great mischief upon the Church, it is HOW polygamy came into the Church, and HOW it left the Church. If anything has caused people to be lead astray, led to strong-man fundamentalism, set up prophet worship in the Church, led away into secular paths, destroyed the tender feelings of the daughters of God, it is HOW this principle was handled (note: I’m talking about it’s application here–the reality of such a doctrine is a discussion for a different time). I am not keen on trying to scope out a “wink, wink” from Denver Snuffer over the eventual return of polygamy doctrine to the Church of the Lamb of God. Instead I say let it lie, and let a man’s words be “yea, yea, and nay nay.”
Finally, others are so pained by the damages done in the name of plural marriage, sexual abuses, iniquity of the marital yoke, that while they laud the monogomist language of Denver, their stakes are even putting them at risk for future guidance from heaven that may challenge those stakes. I don’t believe this will happen, but I loath to never allow for something to happen. It is enough to know a thing is not true today. Let the future take care of itself and be humble. There may be other sacrifices that are possibly harder to accept than plural marriage. We must be willing to accept such sacrifices.
I am reminded of 1 Nephi 14:1:
“And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks.”
That verse is talking about us, about Mormons, right here, right now. There IS a stumbling block. I would state that ultimately it’s how Mormonism set a man between a person and God through the misapplication of Priesthood keys–but the best example of how Priesthood keys have been misapplied has been the entrance and exit of polygamy. Almost all of the break-offs are related to these two issues. It is the stumbling block prophesied, and I for one, would like it removed, no matter which direction the removal takes us. I want to be part of the Church of Lamb of God who the Lord will gather in along with the remnant of the House of Israel.
Back to Charity . . .
And that requires us to use charity on this issue. We ought to throw a cloak of charity over our brothers and sisters who have a different view on things. We ought to pray for them. In doing so, we may find our own stakes to soften, to moderate, to be more pliable to the workings of the Spirit, insomuch that we CAN come to a unity of the faith. I challenge all of us to apply charity to the stumbling blocks of our day–be it plural marriage, gay marriage, or Church authority. Pray for our enemies, love our fellowships, our wards, and I believe we can work all of this out. I hope that we do, and the Lord has PROMISED me that it will work out if we do!