Someone isn’t taking the sacrament; do you judge or support?

I was recently listening to a A Thoughtful Faith podcast episode with Nathaniel Givens. Toward the end, Nathaniel discusses how the sacrament within the LDS church is an open experience, as we share it with one another. He explicitly mentions at one point that he was not encouraging others to watch for others not taking of the sacrament.

That idea of watching for others not taking the sacrament got me thinking.

It’s probably something each of us has seen: someone not taking the sacrament. Perhaps, even, we have been one of those who hadn’t taken it.

When we do notice someone not partaking of the sacrament, even if unintended, what is our first impulse? Do we start wondering to ourselves about what sin it might be that this brother or sister committed? Do we find ourselves judging them?

I wonder if, maybe, we should be mindful to taking another approach. One alternative, if we happen to notice someone not taking the sacrament, is to remind ourselves that perhaps this brother or sister is struggling with something. We should remind ourselves that they’re trying. We should ask ourselves what we can do to offer a hand of support without prying. We should take note of the covenant we’re making at that exact moment to take upon ourselves Jesus’s name and find a way to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

Remember, the energy we devote to judging others is energy taken away from being more like Christ.

Why you should support charitable organizations outside your church

This is a guest post written by Holly Whitman. Holly is a freelance writer and journalist, originally from the UK but now based in Washington DC. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman and more of her writing on her blog, Only Slightly BiasedTo submit a guest post, email ourthoughts@gmail.com.

Giving is at the core of who we are as Christians. Of course, prayer and involvement in the church community are critically important, but philanthropy allows those beliefs to have a positive impact on the world around us.

Sacred Scripture is filled with reminders and urges to be charitable. It includes the call to give of the first fruits of our harvest, the parable of the poor widow who donated more than the rich men around her, and the reminder that God loves a cheerful giver.

Perhaps the most well-known call to charity comes from Matthew 25:37–40,

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

So there is no doubt that as Christians, we have a special vocation to be generous with our time, our talents and our money. But often, we give to the collection plate at church and think we have fulfilled our Christian duty. Not so! Let’s explore why you should support charitable organizations outside of your church.

International organizations

Thanks to social media and a globalized society, we are able to hear stories of those in need from across the globe. The persecution of Christians and other religious groups, children in need of food and clean water as well as victims of natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis inspire us to donate to causes around the world. Potential international giving partners include Charity Water, Pencils of Promise, and Catholic Relief Services.

Think beyond the chequebook

If your family budget doesn’t have room for more charitable giving, or if you are looking for a way to grow closer to family or coworkers while improving your community, consider volunteering your time instead of (or in addition to) your dollars.

Volunteering improves workplace morale and inspires self-reflection. Simply put, volunteers can often come away more changed and blessed than those they serve.

Local charities and events

In day-to-day life, we often hear of worthy causes. Make it your mission to take note of these organizations or needs and follow through with generosity.

If a coworker mentions that their special needs child has benefited from a local therapy program, donate a lesson for another child in need. If you lend a book to a new mom who is struggling, donate a copy of that book to your local library so others can access it as well. There are opportunities to bless those in your local community every day — you just have to be on the lookout.

Online giving

Remember a couple of years ago, when you couldn’t log on to social media without seeing video of a friend or celebrity dousing themselves with ice water? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an example of online giving gone viral.

You may also receive requests to give to friends participating in 5Ks, fun runs or other fundraisers that provide easy online giving mechanisms. This is a great way to learn about new causes and the wide net cast by these campaigns means even a small donation can make a difference.

Supporting your church home is important. Practically speaking, the electric bill needs to be paid, and your church also provides support to people and families in need, education to children and other important causes. But giving generously means donating both your time and money beyond church as well. Remember, whatever you do for your brothers and sisters in need, you do for Him, too.

Love One Another, As I Have Loved You

My personal quest has been, recently, to study and understand the principle of charity better. Even more so, to understand the true nature of love, as the Saviour would have us love. So, I have been studying the scriptures, thinking about it, thinking about the nature of Jesus Christ, reading other publications, such as The Peacegiver: How Christ heals our hearts and homes and The Anatomy of Peace (which I am currently in the middle of reading).

Just yesterday I had an epiphany.

I asked myself the following question, or rather, the following question came to my mind; Why do I love Jesus Christ? (or anyone I love, for that matter). Why do I feel humble when thinking of Him, why do I get an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love when I think about Him? Is it because of anything I have done? Is it because I feel I deserve or should be loved by Him? No.

And why do I have a desire to be better and to do what He wants me to do? Why do I strive (with limited success) to be like Him? Why do I want to be like Him?

It is because He loves me. And I don’t just think this, it is something I know and feel and am aware of on a basic level. His love for me is apparent when I feel the spirit, when I think of His life, how He lived and behaved towards people He came in contact with. This is independent of His teachings to obey the commandments. His love for me is unconditional. Remember, this is independent of His teachings to be obedient and follow the commandments. Loving me does not mean He expects less of me or will let me off the hook.

So all these things I feel and want to be are inspired by His love for me. Not for anything in myself or that I have created. This is the love that He wants us to have for others. For our husbands and wives, our parents, our children, our friends, our other family members, our acquaintances, those we have conflict with, those who are not like us, those who offend us, those who hurt us, those we have no reason to like, those who do things that annoy us. Everyone. He wants us to actually have this love so that they feel this love and are saved by it.

I understand what this love is. It isn’t the doing, it is the state of heart and mind, of truly loving, so that in our demeanor, attitude and behaviour towards others, we radiate this love. This is why people flocked to Him, why children surrounded Him. They knew His love was genuine and constant, they basked in it and wanted it. When He came to the Americas, this is why the multitude didn’t want Him to leave. This is the Spirit which cannot help but be present in the face of such love. It is a love that grows and needs no effort, because it is. It is something that is possible to attain through a lifetime of learning and growth. He has this love for all. We can at least, have this love for those around us.

This is a love I can develop over time, independent of my expectations of others, that I can come to with His help. But this is the true concept of the love of Jesus Christ.

What is charity?

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?