What is charity?

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In Moroni 7:47, the prophet Mormon defined charity as the pure love of Christ. Two verses prior, he outlined several qualities of charity:

*Suffers long
*Is kind
*Envies not
*Is not puffed up
*Seeks not her own
*Is not easily provoked
*Thinks no evil
*Rejoices not in iniquity but in truth
*Bears all things
*Believes all things
*Hopeth all things
*Endures all things

So my question then is how do each of these make one charitable. It’s easy for me to see how being kind fits into our traditional definition of charity. But how does having evil thoughts or being long suffering, for example, amount to being charitable?

17 thoughts on “What is charity?

  1. I don’t think they make you charitable. I think that they are the result of being charitable. The list probably isn’t all-inclusive.

  2. It sounds more like the traits of a sucker rather than a charitable person, in my never to be mistaken for humble opinion, no?

    “Seeks not her own” “Bears all things” “Believes all things” “Endures all things”

    Sound like the perfect mark.

  3. I think our traditional version of charity and the way it’s used in the scriptures are pretty drastically different. Moroni, who’s basically cribbing Paul, leaves out this verse:

    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. (1 Cor 13.3).

    So, charity must mean a lot more than just being generous with your goods, etc. In fact, the Greek NT has the exact same word for Paul’s charity and the word “love” and in “love one another” (John 15.10)

  4. I agree with JM, it is the result of having charity.

    I don’t know Rick, do you think Mother Theresa was a sucker? She had those qualities and with her axample she made a huge difference in the world. But the arrogant and self serving individuals don’t seem to get so far in life although they often think they do. Jesus Christ as well, look at the difference He made in the world, whether people believe Him or not, His influence has been enduring and He has those qualities.

  5. Mary,

    Mother Theresa did not fit the bill. See the following.

    “Seeks not her own” – Seeks that all women follow the instruction on the Catholic church and did not waver in their convictions.
    “Bears all things” – Except babies born out of wedlock or the use of contraceptives.
    “Believes all things” – Believed in a rigid hierarchy and the perfection of the Catholic church exclusively.

    I am not convinced that Mother Theresa was all that helpful in the long run. Her policies often caused as much grief as she solved.

  6. Mother Theresa wouldn’t look after children born out of wedlock? I admit I don’t know a whole lot about her, but at the same time I find it hard to believe she would completely shun children born out of wedlock.

    She also believed in Christ. Yes, she was a faithful Catholic, but I don’t see how that can exclude people from being full of charity. At least she stood for something which is far more than many can say.

  7. When I stated “traditional view of charity”, I didn’t just mean giving things to people (food, clothing, shelter, etc). I also meant charity in th sense that it is who we show genuine love for others; the way we treat those we love.

    So, how does never having bad thoughts make us charitable? Or rather, to be more in line with JM’s first comment, why would being charitable rid us of all evil thoughts? Why does being charitable encourage us to be long suffering?

  8. I’ve heard that somewhere in the Talmud it says to interpret what other people do as coming out of the best motives possible. Assume the best about their intentions.

    One kind of evil thought it assuming the worst of people, and attributing to them the worst motives. It does influence how we receive people, how we treat them.

    Long suffering is greek-speak for patience. It’s charitable not to lose your temper or give up on persistent annoying people. Like my kids.

  9. I’m trying to think of an evil thought or patience situation that doesn’t involve other people.

    And what I can come up with, these evil thoughts or state of impatience will color who you are. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Will one be ready to be charitable in the love-another way, if he or she is feeling inwardly cankered?

    evil thought examples:

    dwelling on thoughts of ripping someone off–will I be natural, or oddly overcompensating, when time comes to interact with that person?

    p0rn-related–will this effect how I view women and relationship?

    jealousy–will my mind be open to be a friend to the person I wish would lose it? will my mental bandwidth be occupied when I could be otherwise productive, even charitably productive in unrelated directions?

    long-suffering–will my letter of complaint to the airlines be more effective if I cannot first express some empathy or see their point of view? The sacred (snort) book of How to Win Friends and Influence People suggests otherwise.

    –will I be patient or available to others, if I’m seething about things at work? Will it impact the other people in the car, if steam is coming out of my ears about the traffic situation?

    sure, part of our christian walk is to do right by others, do our duty, even if our natural impulses say otherwise. But discipline which somewhat clears our internal state of evil and impatience equips us to better server as a conduit for Christ’s love.

    and my kids are so badly raised, they will very likely get your goat. I’m trying to correct my parental errors, but I still hope all the people who encounter them are well rested and feeling good about the world beforehand.

  10. Examples of long suffering that are not related to other people:

    • I am sick and don’t go to the doctor.
    • I am depressed and think I may act on my suicidal thoughts.
    • I feel guilty for things I can’t control.
    • I get upset watching certain types of TV/movies, but I continue to watch them because they are just ‘what’s on’.

    Examples of bad thoughts that do not involve other people:

    • While fixing my car I get frustrated and envision myself throwing wrenches across the garage.
    • While watching TV I see men who are taller, shorter, thinner, more muscular, etc. than me and I think I am a failure because I am not like them.
    • I, as a theoretical member, judge myself to harshly over my own observance of doctrine – or lack of faith.
  11. rick, long suffering doesn’t actually mean suffering for a long time.

    MakrothyMEo- refers to patience with people rather than with things or circumstances.
    References:

    1 Cor. 13:4, I Thess. 5:14; 2 Pet 3:9.
    Matt. 18:26,29.
    Heb. 6:15; James 5:7,8.
    Luke 18:7.

    Let’s look at unjustified condemning thoughts, evil thoughts (not just “bad thoughts”), as in your jealous t.v. watching example, or your harshly self-judgmental theoretical member example. I argue that indulging in these self-damaging thoughts erode our ability to serve. And seriously, do you want to argue that the impulse to throw a wrench in frustration, even in frustrations, is characteristic of the pure love of Christ?

    We’re not talking about if it’s realistic or fair. We’re just reading the scriptural specs describing the pure love of Christ.

  12. “the impulse to throw a wrench in frustration, even in frustrations, is characteristic of the pure love of Christ?”

    At times like those I ask myself, WWJD; then I throw the wrench. ;)

  13. “And seriously, do you want to argue that the impulse to throw a wrench in frustration, even in frustrations, is characteristic of the pure love of Christ?”

    I wonder how He would vent his frustration at the moneychangers in the temple? Perhaps overturning furniture and brandishing a whip?

    Does this mean Christ wasn’t always Christlike?

  14. Well, then the wrench-throwing and temple-table overturning are no problem. Neither is a sign of evil thoughts, both are eminently Christlike. Moroni said “Charity thinks no evil,” not “Charity experiences no frustration.””

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