Sunday, May 29, 2011

Charity

I've been meaning to post this, especially since May is almost over ... I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on mothers day; My assigned topic was "Charity".

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about talking on mothers day as the usual talks include saintly pioneer ancestors, mothers, and grandmothers that are put on a pedestal so high that no woman could ever hope to match.  My parents are not members of the LDS church - so there are no LDS pioneer ancestors to talk about.  And, while I love my mother dearly, she is no saint.

Anyway, I felt the talk went well - as evidenced by the comments I received after the meeting.  So, here is my talk on charity given on mothers day



  • alms-giving
  • assistance
  • benefaction
  • contribution
  • donation
  • helping hand
  • offering
  • philanthropy
  • relief
What do these words all have in common?  They are all synonyms of “charity”.

So … what is charity?

In seeking to understand charity – I went to the experts:  Wikipedia, which states:

In Christian theology charity means an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others. The term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving.
It further says
Love, in this sense of an unlimited loving-kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God
So, in order to understand charity – we need to understand the “nature of God”
In our quest to become more Christ-like, we need to heed the words of the prophet Moroni who taught us “If ye have not charity, ye are nothing” (Mor 7:46). Moroni went on to explain that “Charity is the pure love of Christ” (Mor 7:47)

The apostle John taught us that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus Christ laid down his life so that we may be saved – which, as explained by John, is the ultimate expression of love.

Now, the reality is that none of us will likely ever be asked to give up our lives – but we can give in other ways
  • We can give of our money – through tithes, offerings, and charitable contributions
  • We can give of our worldly goods – through donations
  • But, most importantly, we can give of our time

We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Our time here on earth is precious. When we give our time to others, we are giving a little of ourselves.

Edmund Burke has been attributed to saying “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing”

It’s been said that "Charity begins at home"; but, Horatio Smith went further to say “Our charity begins at home, And mostly ends where it begins.”

Mother Teresa once said “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one”

And an unknown author shared “Charity sees the need, not the cause”

The apostle Paul taught us that “Charity never faileth) (1 Cor 13:8). He went on to explain “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)

The apostle Matthew taught “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” (Matt 6:3-4)

I learned about charity from my mother through her examples.

My mother had a dry sense of humor. To a casual observer she might have even been judged as being harsh. As a child, when I was outside playing and hurt myself and came into the house crying – she was ask “are you bleeding?” and then send me back outside. But, she knew when the hurt and pain was real. I remember once laying sick in bed with a high fever – and she sat by my bedside all night dabbing my forehead with a damp cloth trying to keep my temperature down.

My mother was a visiting nurse by profession where she would visit people, mostly elderly, in their homes to check on them and administer to their needs. We lived near the coast outside of Santa Cruz, California at the time. During the summer months I would sometimes go with her on her route – and would play in the tide pools on the shore while she visited her patients. Sometimes she took me into their homes to visit with them while she went about her business

When she entered a patient’s home she would ask how they are doing – and they would often respond with “I’m dying” – to which she would reply “well, I’m dying too – you’re just going to die a little sooner than me.” – but she always knew the right things to say to help ease their mind; and, when she left their home, her patients usually said a sincere and heartfelt “thank you”

During my high school years, we moved to Moss Landing, a tiny town of 500 people on the coast outside of Watsonville, California. Watsonville is known as the “salad bowl” as that is the area where we get much of our salad type crops, as well as strawberries, apples, artichokes, and other fruits and vegetables. As such, it has a large population of migrant farm workers – many of whom struggled just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

My mom believed that every little girl needs a baby doll. So she started finding old dolls at garage sales and thrift stores. She would bring them home and clean them up. She would then dig through her stash of cloth and sew new clothes for them. And, when she saw a little girl in need – she would give them a doll.

She never bragged about what she did; but, other people learned of what she was doing and started bringing her old dolls and scraps of cloth. And my mother would use her spare time to clean dolls and sew doll clothes – never seeking recognition for her efforts. It did not matter to her that many of these families were here illegally. She saw and responded only the need in the best way she could – never once considered the cause.

My mother was a voracious letter writer. She would often send a small note to people whom she had only met briefly. My parents are not members of the church and were most displeased with my decision to serve a mission; however, throughout the two years, I always knew there would be a letter from mom each week.

As her health declined and she was no longer able to help in ways she used to, she continued writing letters to everybody she knew. The letters stopped when we bid my mother goodbye a few years ago as she lost her battle with cancer.

I miss my mother; but, I am consoled by the fact that we will once again be joined in eternity.

So, how can we be charitable?
  • When we stay up all night helping a child with a science project, which they’ve know about for weeks but which we only just found out – we are showing charity.
  • When a child cleans their room or does the dishes without asking – they are showing charity
  • When a husband greets his wife with a hug – he is showing charity
  • When a mother prepares a favorite meal – she is showing charity
 Charity need not be grandiose – it does not need fanfare. It is those small simple acts of kindness we perform as we see and respond to a need – without any consideration of the cause.

All of us – regardless of our station in life - need charity. And all of us, need to show charity to others
in our quest to become more Christ-like.

In general relief society meeting of the October 2010 general conference, President Thomas S Monson said

Charity has been defined as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love,” the “pure love of Christ … ; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with [her].”

He went on to say:
“Charity never faileth.” May this long-enduring Relief Society motto, this timeless truth, guide you in everything you do. May it permeate your very souls and find expression in all your thoughts and actions.

I leave this same thought with you in the name of our elder brother – even Jesus Christ


Posting to my blog also gives me a chance to include a picture that I think illustrates my blog topic.  Charity is the pure love of Christ - what better way to represent this than to include a picture of two men in love ...


9 comments:

Bravone said...

Nice talk Abe!

Justine said...

Great job! Wish I could have been there to hear it in person.

I am Landmark said...

I think I would rather have spent three hours learning from your mom than three hours in church. Thank you for sharing those memories.

Beck said...

I find you very much your mother's son... a dry sense of blunt humor with a foundation anchored in charity.

Paul said...

Thanks for sharing about your mom.

I'm sure you miss her a lot, but you have taken on so many of her qualities that, really, she is still with you.

Anonymous said...

While i am i pressed by your honesty...i cant help be devestated by your selfishness when it comes to a beautiful se. Life you wife is missing out on. How unfullfilled and depressed she must be by your choices. Abe, what do u do for her and her desires. Imimagine her locking herself in a room crying so untouched and needing that. Holding on to the thoubht that as long as undo remain moral and righteous in this lifemthat she may have that lo ving tou h she lost her on earth. Good luckmto u abe.

g.r.o.u.n.d.e.d. said...

A quick question, Abe. Is there some browser trick you know of to keep the MoHo directory updated? Sometimes I check it, and it seems no one has written for days. When I look at someone else's blog, and look at their blog roll, many of the same blogs that are on the directory have been updated elsewhere but not on the directory. This can be quite frustrating and I am uncertain how best to solve this issue. Any help you can offer would be GREATLY appreciated and welcomed.

Thank you. Hope all is going well for you and your family. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Even if it did take me over 2 months to drop by your site and read it. So good to know you are still writing... even if it is only occasionally. You have a unique and important voice.

Best,

Adam Yes, the Adam you correspond with once or twice a year :-)

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