Monday, October 7, 2013

Finding Joy in Charity

Gems of Reflection #36
One personality trait that I have always admired in others is charity. I try to be Christ-like and see others as He sees them (though sometimes this proves to be extremely difficult), for I know that each of us is a child of God, but one thing in which I think I lack - which I know is an extremely vital aspect of charity - is taking time to serve others. It's not that I don't love the people in my life. I serve my husband and children daily, but I often find myself realizing that I should take the time to reach out to those in my neighborhood and ward, searching for ways to serve them better.

In his April, 2011 General Conference talk, titled Finding Joy Through Loving Service, Elder M. Russell Ballard said:
"It is only when we love God and Christ with all of our hearts, souls, and minds that we are able to share this love with our neighbors through acts of kindness and service—the way that the Savior would love and serve all of us if He were among us today. 
When this pure love of Christ—or charity—envelops us, we think, feel, and act more like Heavenly Father and Jesus would think, feel, and act. Our motivation and heartfelt desire are like unto that of the Savior. He shared this desire with His Apostles on the eve of His Crucifixion. He said: 
'A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you. …
'By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' (John 13:34-35)
The love the Savior described is an active love. It is not manifested through large and heroic deeds but rather through simple acts of kindness and service."

Simply stated, we can show our love for our Heavenly Father and for others is by serving them. While writing this post today, I was reminded of a poem that I heard long ago, which demonstrates this principle perfectly. It's called, "Which Loved Her Best?" by Anonymous:

"I love you, Mother," said little John;
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on.
And he was off to the garden swing,
And left her the water and wood to bring.

"I love you, Mother," said little Nell;
"I love you better than tongue can tell."
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

"I love you, Mother," said little Fan;
"Today I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am school doesn't keep!"
So she rocked the baby till it fell asleep.

Then, stepping softly, she took the broom,
And swept the floor and tidied the room.
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as child could be.

"I love you, Mother," again they said,
Three little children going to bed.
How do you think that Mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?

So how can we develop a sense of charity in our lives? How can we become more Christ-like and learn to find joy in serving others? Elder Ballard ended his talk by saying:

"Brothers and sisters, may I re-emphasize that the most important attribute of Heavenly Father and of His Beloved Son that we should desire and seek to possess within our lives is the gift of charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). From this gift springs our capacity to love and to serve others as the Savior did. 
The prophet Mormon taught us the supreme importance of this gift and told us how we can receive it: “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, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; 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” (Moroni 7:48).  
Great things are wrought through simple and small things. Like the small flecks of gold that accumulate over time into a large treasure, our small and simple acts of kindness and service will accumulate into a life filled with love for Heavenly Father, devotion to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a sense of peace and joy each time we reach out to one another."
I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows us and loves us each individually, and I am grateful for this opportunity to be reminded of the importance of charity in my life. 

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