Clothed in Charity
July 1999

“Clothed in Charity,” Ensign, July 1999, 55

The Visiting Teacher:

Clothed in Charity

Our Heavenly Father expects all of His children to love one another: “Above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace” (D&C 88:125).

Charity is a work of the heart. It is not merely affection, but the highest and strongest kind of love. It is the pure love of Christ. If we love the Lord with all our heart, it becomes easier to love others. And as we do, we become more like Him.

A Gift of Love

Developing this kind of love is not possible without the Lord’s help. It is, in fact, a gift—a divine gift given to those who diligently seek to follow Him through obedience, service, and sacrifice: “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” (Moro. 7:48).

One sister, who for many years resented her father for the abusive way she had been reared, realized her attitude needed to change. “As I read what the Savior and our prophets have said about changing our hearts, it dawned on me that my hard heart was not hurting my father, but it was affecting every aspect of my life—especially my relationship with my Heavenly Father.”

For nearly two years she prayed and fasted for this change. Then one evening while attending a meeting focused on parenting, she remembers, “My soul filled with love for my dad, and I couldn’t contain it.” After the meeting, she and her husband drove to her father’s home. “I rang the doorbell. When the door opened I saw a very angry man, and my father slammed the door. I rang again. He finally let me in, but only because I wouldn’t leave.

“I had no idea what I was going to say; I assumed it would be something like, ‘I forgive you for not being a very good dad.’ But I had it all wrong. As we sat together, I took his hand in mine, looked into his eyes, and said, ‘I want you to know I love you, and I am so glad you are my dad.’ The miracle was that I actually meant what I said! My anger and hurt had turned to love.

“Even now, many years later, my love for my father has only grown. His personality didn’t change, but a loving Heavenly Father healed my heart. I felt the pure love of Christ.”

The Root of Many Virtues

As we develop charity, we develop other virtues as well. President Brigham Young observed: “There is one virtue … which, if cherished and practiced by the Saints, would prove salvation to thousands upon thousands. I allude to charity, or love, from which proceed forgiveness, long suffering, kindness, and patience” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 217–18).

The words of a beloved hymn encourage us to “pause to help and lift another, finding strength beyond [our] own” (“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, no. 220). Charitable hearts do remarkable works, and nothing will bring joy into our lives more completely than nurturing and acting upon the Christlike feelings that prompt us to do good.

[illustration] Illustrated by Sheri Lynn Boyer Doty