Today we've got a treat: a guest post from Catania of That Good Part. Last month she did a two-week scripture study on charity, so I asked her to talk a little bit more about charity with us today.
There are times when I feel overwhelmed by my own ineptitude. In fact, today was one of those days. I realized that my prayers are vain because I plead with Heavenly Father for help and blessings, yet do things that would bring about the exact opposite result. I recognized this as I was praying (a kind nudge from a loving Father who wants to help me), then I felt ashamed. I apologized for my many failures, and ended the prayer.
I know...this is depressing so far, but follow me for a second because I promise that it gets better!
When I think about my failures and weaknesses, I try to pinpoint their sources. I've noticed that every failure I have experienced can be attributed to a single problem: I am a natural (wo)man.
Remember what we were taught by Abinadi in the Book of Mormon:
"For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil." - Mosiah 16:3
I am a natural woman, susceptible to the weakness of the flesh. It's a battle each one of us faces. Yet this battle isn't a hopeless scenario. Heavenly Father has offered us something to overcome our failures and natural state. He has offered us something that never fails: Charity - His pure love.
So - the real question is How do we go about obtaining Charity?
To me, it seems like the way to obtain charity is fairly simple: we receive it in connection to our faith and hope.
Since charity is Christ's pure love, it would follow that we need to have faith in Him! Sometimes, it can be hard to have faith in Christ. We can't see Him. We are tempted to doubt. Even after receiving witness we are often faced with temptations that cause us to doubt. Luckily, the Lord will help us to develop faith. A great example of this is Nephi:
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers." - 1 Nephi 2:16Nephi merely had a desire to understand God's mysteries. Based on this desire, the Lord softened his heart and helped his ability to have faith.
I am not the most faithful person, by nature. I haven't always had a particularly faithful heart. But I want to believe. I want to have faith. And the Lord has given me ways to develop my faith. I can now say that I do have faith. But even though my faith has increased, my personal failures haven't disappeared. In fact, since my faith in the Lord has grown, I have become more aware of my weakness.
Yet, because of my faith in Christ, I have come to be filled with hope - in the salvation that Christ offers through His atonement. Ether teaches:
"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." - Ether 12:4
When we have faith and hope, we recognize our own nothingness, our own failings, and remember that we depend on the Lord. We become anchored to him - all the while realizing that we are nothing without Him.
This humility is another key ingredient in obtaining charity.
We learn from Moroni's experience:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." - Ether 12:27When we humble ourselves before the Lord - with faith in Him, and hope in His plan, then he can help us in our weakness. We receive His grace, and through His grace, he helps us to overcome our failings.
It is through Christ's infinite and pure love that He performed the atonement. Truly, charity will never fail. And He will infuse such power into our lives if we come unto Him humbly - full of faith and hope.
I'm still a woman of many failures. They continue to frustrate me and complicate my life. Yet I know that Christ will bless me with charity. Progress will be difficult, and though I fail, His charity does not. Through Christ's tender and perfect love He will help me overcome and succeed.
I'm grateful for God's pure love. It is through experiencing His love that I've been able to learn to have charity for others. I hope that you are also able to feel His charity, as He helps you to be perfected in Him through His love. How do you allow His charity, which never fails, fill in the gaps and failures in your life?