“An Increase of Charity,” Ensign, Aug. 1991, 57
“No greater heroine lives in today’s world than the woman who is quietly doing her part,” says Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society general president. “Generally unsung, you live everywhere. … You show your love for the Lord daily as you support husbands, nurture children, care for parents, benefit neighbors, serve in your schools, sit on community councils, and do much of the work of this world in and out of the home.” (Ensign, Nov. 1990, p. 89.)
Charity is to Relief Society as a keystone is to an arch. In a building, the keystone holds the other blocks firmly in place. Unless the master stone is correctly placed, the arch falls. Likewise, thoughts and acts of charity hold together our societies and link us individually to our Savior.
Considering the opportunities to perform acts of charity that are all around us, where do we start? William S. Evans, director of community relations for the Church Public Affairs Department, suggests that we:
Begin in our neighborhoods and communities, in our wards or branches, among our family members and acquaintances.
Find service opportunities that fill a need or that match our interests, talents, or hobbies.
Try helping in the schools, supporting the arts, improving the environment, or serving the handicapped, the elderly, or the disadvantaged. (See Ensign, June 1990, p. 78.)
How can we make charity a keystone of our living?
The prophet Mormon defined charity as “the pure love of Christ” and said, “Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love.” (Moro. 7:47–48.) When the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “It is natural for females to have feelings of charity and benevolence,” he emphasized action: “You are now placed in a situation in which you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms.” (History of the Church, 4:605.) Performing acts of charity actually changes our hearts. Charity is like a muscle that profits from exercise.
One sister regularly exercised charity in her neighborhood, volunteering to teach crafts at a nursing home and sitting with a chronically ill neighbor each week. Her service prepared her to reach out to people in Pakistan when her husband accepted an assignment to be an agronomist in that country. Her capacity to serve crossed borders of language and culture.
What charitable acts can we make a habitual part of our lives?
The Lord has identified some of the qualities a charitable person possesses. In the course of our daily lives, we have many opportunities to be selfless, to forgive grudges and offenses, and to control our thoughts. Through our actions, we can show that we rejoice not in iniquity but in the truth; that we bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. (See Moro. 7:45.)
A charitable heart also gladly receives. When one energetic sister became ill, she didn’t want anyone to serve her. But her wise bishop counseled: “Remember that we assist others when we receive their offers of help graciously. Let these people be blessed by helping you.”
Through living charitably and praying to embody the quality of love, we may be, as Mormon promised, “filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.” (Moro. 7:48.)
What qualities of charity can we strive to adopt?