Hope is personal confidence and trust in the reality of God and the possibilities of Godhood. A person’s hope increases when they learn, study, ponder and develop their love for the divine nature of God and the divine character of the Savior, Jesus Christ. God at a minimum is glorified, omniscient (all-knowing), perfectly just and merciful, omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-loving) [See also the divine nature of God]. Also, in order have sufficient hope you have to develop your love for the divine character and role of your Savior, Jesus Christ–He was perfect, He was the Only-Begotten, He was willing [See also divine character of the Savior, Jesus Christ].
Developing a personal love for God and the Savior, Jesus Christ, in these ways is often easier said than done. We often take “hope” for granted–literally–acting as if enough exposure to Christianity without purposefully learning, studying and pondering will develop sufficient hope. When the trials and crises of life come–and they will come–a person’s hope will truly be tested and determined whether it is sufficient. It is in these difficult situations that people’s hope shrinks and they question or even doubt these divine characteristics of God and the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sufficient hope should develop a broken heart and contrite spirit because a broken heart and contrite spirit is a spiritual state that acknowledges the greatness of God and the absolute dependent relationship that all of mankind has with God–for we are nothing without God (Moses 1:10-11).
We often hear the phrase, “just have faith”, but more often than not we are really telling someone to develop sufficient hope–a real and substantive love, confidence, trust and knowledge of who God (Father/Mother) and the Son are.
“Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven” (Moroni 7:3).
Faith in Christ
Once you understand how comprehensive and important hope is, it is easier to understand the role of faith. Faith is exercising personal free will of righteous principles (faith in Jesus Christ) within a covenant with God. It is the action or doing as a result of sufficient hope. You should start to see how important hope is. For without sufficient hope, a person will not have a desire or even a motivational source to do the will of the Lord (faith).
Free will is very important here. It is the one divine characteristic we have in common with the Savior, Jesus Christ. Exercising that gift of free will is the very means of becoming more like the Savior and fulfilling Christ’s doctrine.
“Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ” (Moroni 7:25).
“And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you…And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites…And the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the amount from the presence of the Lord, and write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that he should be lifted up upon the cross; and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people. And after Christ truly had showed himself unto his people he commanded that they should be made manifest” (Ether 3:13-17; 4:1-2).
“For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world. But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen….For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith” (Ether 12:5-41).
Charity Never Faileth
It is important to separate “charity” from “the fruits” of charity. The following are common versions that we define as charity but they are actually the fruits of charity:
However, divine or Godly charity as taught in the scriptures is both the mind and will of God. The mind of God is a revelatory process where a person can receive God’s truth (light). It is literally the Lord sharing a portion of His light (omniscience, intelligence, truth, etc.) with another human being. It is being able to see or understand what God sees or understands about a specific person or situation. It is seeing with your spiritual eyes or it is God’s sharing of pure intelligence with your own mind (spirit/soul).
This increase in personal truth through the mind of God adds depth, breadth and context to any given situation. It’s purpose is to empower a person to change one’s reaction or action from a natural-man re/action to a Godly re/action. Thus, charity is also the will of God–the literal enabling power to be able to do what what the Lord God would do. For without the knowledge (revelation of His will) a person could never do the Godly.
This charity never faileth. It never faileth because it is never wrong. It is always right because the mind of God is always right and thus the will of God is always right. The omniscience of God never fails and because the Lord is perfectly just and merciful His will is always best. The Lord is charity. He is not just full of good and always better than the natural-man re/action, but He is always the best re/action in any given situation.
Thus, we see and understand a divine progression whereby:
…sufficient Hope (personal confidence and trust in the reality of God and the possibilities of Godhood)
…a personal broken heart and contrite spirit (acknowledging one’s nothingness and absolute dependency upon God)
which leads to
…Faith in Jesus Christ (exercising personal free will by purposefully seeking the will of Jesus Christ)
which leads to
…receiving the mind of God (a portion of divine light, omniscience, intelligence, truth, etc.)
which leads to
…knowing and doing the will of God (Faith again–choosing to obey and execute the Lord’s will)
which never faileth because it is always and forever best.
“And now I, Moroni, write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity; for after this manner did he speak unto the people, as he taught them in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship. If so, his faith [willingness to do something] and hope [confidence in anything other than God] is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart [broken heart and contrite spirit]; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart [broken heart and contrite spirit], and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity [the mind and will of God]; for if he have not charity [the mind and will of God] he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity [the mind and will of God]. And charity [the mind and will of God] suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things [all because of the divine characteristics of God]. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail [natural-man things–motives, desires, ideas, philosophies, etc.]—But charity [the mind and will of God] is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever [because God’s truth and righteousness is endless]; and whoso is found possessed of it [this gift] at the last day, it shall be well with him [because God will have been the captain of their souls].” (Moroni 7:1,44-47)
Essential to Your Progression
With this context you should now begin to see why charity is not just a good thing but necessary to your personal progression and fulfilling Christ’s doctrine:
Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity [the mind and will of God] bringeth unto me [brings you to the presence of the Lord]—the fountain of all righteousness. And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity [the mind and will of God]; wherefore, except men shall have charity [the mind and will of God] they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father. Wherefore, I know by this thing which thou hast said, that if the Gentiles have not charity [the mind and will of God], because of our weakness, that thou wilt prove them, and take away their talent, yea, even that which they have received, and give unto them who shall have more abundantly…And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity [the mind and will of God]. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity [the mind and will of God] it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness [nothingness without God; Dependency upon God for everything; broken heart and contrite spirit] thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father” (Ether 12:28,34-37).
NOTE: This entire chapter is something you should consider studying deeper. It is captured in “We Love Spiritual Soundbites“
Charity is the Greatest
Is there any greater gift than to have the mind and will of God–to not only guide us in our everyday situations but to guide us back into His presence?
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail [natural-man things–motives, desires, ideas, philosophies, etc.]” (Moroni 7:46).
The Right Application of Charity
There is an interesting thing that happens when you understand that charity is the mind and will of God. You realize that it is not “endless mercy” as one might have supposed. However, it is always right.
My own children are pretty awesome and amazing in different ways. Although they each came from the same mother and father and all raised in the same home together, none of them are exactly the same and in some cases it’s not even close. My wife and I have learned a lot about each one and we often discuss what’s best for each of them.
Let’s suppose each of our children came to us and was really wanting something–a big purchase–like their own car. Each child would go out of their way to make a case that they not only want that thing but they need that thing [a car in this case] to get them from place to place–and “Dad, as you know, I am so busy and have to be in so many places that you and Mom can’t get me to with all the other things going on.” Well, according to the temporal definition of charity above there would be no other option but for my wife and I to not hesitate to purchase the car and celebrate.
Now, with the true spiritual meaning understood, what should our decision be? Here’s what’s interesting. The answer would be different for each of our kids because the needs of each of our kids are unique. That’s not a politically correct answer because by the world’s standards it would likely not be considered fair or equal.
This is exactly what our heavenly parents do–except they have omniscience. Their omniscience allows Them to have perfect justice and mercy–knowing when to apply more or less of each in a customized way for the spiritual benefit and development of each of their spirit sons or daughters. This is pure charity.
For my wife and I, we have a good understanding of who each of our children are but it is still imperfect (lacks omniscience). We would do well to borrow the Lord’s omniscience and have our child do the same for all of us to come to a solution to any issue that one of our children believes is a need. This is also charity.
Let’s take one more example to point out something else very interesting about charity. Periodically, I will drive over a freeway overpass intersection where cars enter and exit the freeway. There is a certain man that stands on the median at the traffic light where he can strategically get the attention of passengers waiting at the light. He holds a cardboard sign asking for donations. A person could easily roll down their window and offer a donation. Should I also offer a donation to him? Every time?
If you asked ten people that question, you just might get ten different answers about why, which situations, how much and more. But if we have sufficient hope and faith in Jesus Christ then we could simply seek for the Lord to share His omniscience and perfect justice and mercy. So in that moment, I could simply ask a specific question and receive an answer equal to that question. The answer from the Lord could be “no” to offering a donation. It might be “not this time.” It could be “yes.” It could be a “no” for the benefit of him. It could be a “yes” for the benefit of both him and me. It could be a “yes, give” for my spiritual benefit (trial of obedience to personal revelation or personal discernment) at that moment. It could be a million things so long as a person continues to ask more questions.
The interesting thing about a situation like this is that to the world, not offering a donation to someone seemingly in need seems not charitable at all. However, by understanding the true meaning of charity, even a “no” answer from the Lord is still charitable because it is what is “best” for either me or for others or for both. And this is also true charity.
God’s omniscience and perfect justice and mercy never faileth. Therefore, charity never faileth. If anything ever does fail it is our insufficient hope and faith in Christ that should lead us to seek for the mind and will of the Lord.
This should also be another turning point for you as you consider common spiritual phrases like, “seek me” or “seek, knock, ask” or “counsel with the Lord” or “come follow me” or “keep my commandments.” They have deeper meaning. Maybe we will find that they are often misapplied or there are better opportunities to apply these types of phrases.
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63-64).
Keep in mind that the question of whether or not you are applying true charity is not always about the offering the temporal things of the world. Charity is relevant in every situation that personal revelation is relevant–from whether you should make a comment in Sunday school, to whether you should provide service, to who you should serve and when. Yes, every situation.
With this context of what charity is, not just its fruits, I invite you to apply “the mind and will of God” to every discussion of charity in the scriptures. Also, I personally invite you to lay hold upon every “good thing” by seeking for the “mind and will of God” in all your doings. If you do, I witness that you will grow to love the Lord and receive all things that are best for you to receive.
“Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day (Alma 37:36-37).
What think ye of charity?
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