Charity Doth Not Behave Itself Unseemly

“Charity Doth Not Behave Itself Unseemly,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 71

The Visiting Teacher:

“Charity Doth Not Behave Itself Unseemly”

Objective: To strive to set a positive example of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Follow me,” Jesus said, and Simon Peter and Andrew left their nets and followed him. (See Matt. 4:18–20.) Like these humble fishermen who became Christ’s disciples, we, too, seek to follow him. He performed miracles, exemplified perfection, and, through the Atonement and the Resurrection, made immortality and eternal life possible for us.

He has said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) and, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). How can we show our love for Jesus and for one another? How can we keep his commandments and set an example that will make others want to follow him?

We all have opportunities to proclaim the gospel by being good examples in our homes, at work, at school, and in our communities. One young woman’s patriarchal blessing said that wherever she traveled, people would judge the Church by her example. Since then, she has traveled a great deal—in a college performing group and in her subsequent employment. She has remembered that counsel and has had many opportunities to discuss the Church with nonmembers.

Another sister, a recent convert, was interested one Sunday when a sister in her ward spoke about dressing with the intention to someday go to the temple. “That sister’s counsel made a strong impression on me,” she says. “As I pondered it, I felt a determination to discover just how I should dress if I had been to the temple.” She later discarded her inappropriate clothing, and she made future purchases with Church standards in mind. Two years later, when she received her endowment, her wardrobe needed no overhauling; it was both modest and attractive.

Setting a positive example involves love and respect for others and a tolerance for their beliefs. A handbook used by lady missionaries states, “Etiquette and good manners are based on respect for people’s feelings, opinions, property, and time. Such respect shows that we are more concerned about others than ourselves.” (Ye Are the Light of the World, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1984, pp. 77–78.) The way we treat others reflects both what we are and what we believe.

It is often easier to show respect and tolerance to acquaintances—or even strangers—than to those who are closest to us. When we are tired, ill, or under stress, do we still speak kindly to a disobedient child, a thoughtless spouse, or an angry roommate? The Apostle Peter counseled, “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another … be courteous.” (1 Pet. 3:8.)

Respect and tolerance go hand-in-hand with reverence for life itself. We should honor and respect all God’s children, as well as his creations. If we remember who we are and act accordingly, we can learn to have charity, which, the Apostle Paul said, “doth not behave itself unseemly” (see 1 Cor. 13:4–5), and which will enable us to love others as the Savior loves us.

“A beautiful, modest, gracious woman is creation’s masterpiece,” President David O. McKay said. “When a woman adds to these virtues, as guiding stars in her life, righteousness and godliness, and an irresistible impulse and desire to make others happy, no one will question if she be classed among those who are the truly great.” (Man May Know for Himself, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1969, p. 261.)

Suggestions for Visiting Teachers

  1. Share an experience in which a positive example affected someone for good.

  2. Discuss with the sister you are visiting areas wherein we may set good examples.

(See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 166, 180–81, 204–205, 236–37, 242–45, and all references listed for Love for related materials.)

Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker