Today, we will finish the Christlike attributes series. I want to thank you for joining me in this journey and hope that you were able to learn what you needed to do to help improve those qualities that you know you need to work on. Also, thank you to those individuals who took part in the Christlike Attributes Evaluation Challenge. I hope that the process outlined in the challenge was helpful so that you can achieve your goals pertaining to the attributes you chose.
Let’s review the focus scripture for this series:
2 Peter 1:5-8
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I loved writing about these attributes because through my research and planning, I was able to see how they are all intertwined. I’ll be honest with you. The closer I got to the end of the series, the harder it became to write as I realized that I could not just discuss one attribute without relying on others. And that is the case with this final post.
Charity encompasses so much that I cannot comprehend everything about it at this stage in my life. I have had to ponder and study it more than any other attribute. It is something that I have to work on, and it will take me a long time to develop. I truly need to rely on my Savior’s example to know how to incorporate it more in my life.
The best scriptural definition about charity that I found is the following:
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
What is the pure love of Christ? Is it the humble way He lived His life? Is it the compassion He showed towards all those He encountered? Is it the way He reached out to the one? Is it the way He found ways to connect with the individuals He taught? Is it the decision He made to atone and die for our sins? Is it the way He showed He could rise from the dead in order for us to also do so one day? Is it all of this plus more? The pure love of Christ endures forever. We’ve heard of the phrase “charity never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8), but what exactly does that mean? His love, His pure love, for you and for me is always there. He will never stop loving us, no matter what we do.
The Apostle Paul understood that charity was the culminating attribute to attain. His beautiful account about what charity is and why it is important for us to be filled with charity is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 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.
3 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.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
These verses are packed with key components of charity. If you are like me and need a place to start as you wrap your mind around how to go about developing charity, then you can focus on the phases taught in verses four through seven. I see these verses as the Five Phases Resulting in Charity. As we go through these phases, you will find us referencing back to the Christlike attributes we discussed in the series because they all encompass charity. I ended up rewording most of verses four through seven into something that you and I could grasp a little better. You will find those phrases underlined.
Phase 1: Opening our hearts to truth, faith, and hope
Delighting in truth
Faith revolves around the majority of what we do and learn. The more knowledge and truth we seek, the more we rely on faith to take us the extra mile when we don’t exactly understand how to incorporate these things fully into our lives. We are hopeful about many things including how the Atonement works in our lives and how to make it through the challenges we face. Opening our hearts is a humbling experience. We are allowing the good parts and the not so good parts about ourselves to become exposed. In turn, the Spirit is able to enter into our hearts and plant the seeds of faith and hope about what we are learning concerning the gospel, Christ, and ourselves. Those seeds grow, become stronger, and continue to long for more truth. And the cycle continues.
Phase 2: Allowing goodness to flood into our minds and reflect in our actions
Not behaving inappropriately
Not becoming easily provoked
Ridding ourselves of evil thoughts
Not delighting in iniquity
Once our hearts are filled with truth, faith, and hope, our minds begin to change. Virtue wants to garnish our thoughts. Patience matures little by little. Godliness wants to abide with us and change our very natures. Our choices become more centered in Christ and the things that matter most. We no longer want to act inappropriately because we don’t want to disappoint our Savior nor risk losing the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Things that would have made us upset in the past, no longer provoke us. We want to flood our minds with holiness and perform good works.
Phase 3: Putting away our pride
Ridding ourselves of envy
Not being proud nor feeling superior
After our hearts have been softened and our minds enlightened, we recognize that pride is a weakness that must be tempered. The root of anger is pride. You have felt it. When you look at others and ask, “Why do they have it better than me? I want to have ________ too. It’s not fair that they have ______ and I don’t.” Comparison can lead to anger and sadness. If we allow those feelings to enter into our hearts, then we close our hearts and our minds, leading us to have to work on phases one and two much harder.
Pride is very difficult to rid ourselves of because it is part of the natural man. Sometimes we want the glory of the world when we do exceptionally well at something. We want to stand out and say “I did this. I am better than _________.” But that is not what the Savior taught. He never performed miracles to be put on a pedestal. He didn’t want the world to see Him as better than everyone else. He was humble, He gave His Father the glory, and He taught us that we could become like Them if we followed Christ’s example and God’s plan. We CAN put away our pride. Phase four shows us how.
Phase 4: Loving others
Putting others first
When we put others first, we forget about ourselves. That is what Christ did. He placed the Father’s will first. He put the blind, the lame, the sick, and the broken-hearted first. He put YOU first. Service is the key to truly loving others. If you have a hard time getting along with someone, think of ways that you can serve them. Instead of complaining about them, what can you do for THEM? Maybe they won’t see your efforts and that’s ok. Again, it is not about being seen and praised for what we do. It is about easing their burdens and being an answer to someone’s prayer. It is about being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Phase 5: Enduring it all
Remain firm under all circumstances
Endure to the end
As we try to make charity a part of our lives, we may be ridiculed and persecuted. Christ, His apostles, and His disciples were too. There are many people out there that don’t understand the true purpose of life and do not know about God’s plan. On the cross, Christ asked the Father to “forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We must too. It goes back to the previous phases, especially focusing on the aspects of not becoming easily provoked and not feeling superior. We CANNOT be self-righteous in these situations either, otherwise we run the risk of turning others away as we judge them for not being at a spiritual level that they have not yet learned about for themselves.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ does not make us immune to trials and difficulties. We cannot lose our faith and our hope just because these difficulties are not taken away on our terms. Heavenly Father knows everything about us. He knows that we can pull through anything. We have to believe in ourselves, recognize what we lack, and allow Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps. We will have ups and downs in our lives, no doubt about it. It is vital that we remain steadfast. True charity can do that for us.
If you feel that you are far from having the Christlike attribute of charity, you are not alone. I feel the same way too. The following scripture gives us direction on what we must do.
48 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. Amen.
I leave you my testimony that I know that charity is attainable. We must pray and work hard. The Holy Ghost will assist us and show us what we need to improve on. We can turn to the scriptures to learn about Christ’s example. Christ will purify us and make us whole as we allow the Atonement to work in our lives. He believes in us. Like everything else, it won’t come overnight. It may take our whole lives to achieve it, and that is okay. May we be "found possessed of [charity] at the last day” (Moroni 7:47).
Review the Christlike Attributes series:
Eight Christlike Attributes for Our Spiritual Identity
How to Increase Virtue
How Gospel Knowledge Provides Stability and Strength
Five Steps to Become Temperate in All Things
What We Learn as We Develop Patience
Five Essential Changes towards Godliness
How to Increase More in Brotherly Kindness