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Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Gift of Charity, Part 2: Is God's Anger Kindled Against You?


The deeper I study the Gift of Charity, the more I find that you really can’t exercise the gift unless and until you realize three things:

1. You are nothing -- absolutely, positively nothing -- before God. 
“O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.” (Helaman 12:7)
“For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—” (Mosiah 4:5,11)
2. Even if you think you’re something before God, you aren’t -- without charity. 
“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.
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.” (1 Corinthians 13:2-3)
3. Before you can credibly implement the Gift of Charity, before you can justifiably move beyond being a great big nothingburger before God, you must first cleanse and align yourself:
“Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.” (Alma 60:23; also see Matthew 23:26-28)

Charity Begins Inside Yourself


Imagine if that full-time missionary had never visited you, your parents or one of your ancestors.

Imagine if God had never given Joseph Smith the context of his circumstances while in the Liberty Jail.

Imagine if an angel from heaven never came and strengthened Jesus while in the Garden of Gethsemane.

All of us (even the greatest, Jesus Christ) need strengthening. Sometimes, the best way to begin feeling the light of God's love is for someone to first share it with us.

It's an indisputable fact that strengthening one another -- sharing the light of spiritual strength -- is a primary component of God's plan for mankind. If that weren't so, then Zion (where all are of one heart, one mind, dwelling in righteousness with no poor among them) would be a fantasy.

Over and over again, Jesus has told us to feed His sheep. And not just church leaders. Not just the full-time or ward missionaries. Not just those gung-ho church members in your circle of friends. He spoke to every one of us, without exception.
"Feed my lambs." (John 21:15)
"Feed my sheep." (John 21:16, 17)
"Feed my sheep" (D&C 112:14)

I See A Light...Oh, Wait...Nevermind


Despite these consistent commands, it’s astounding to me how easily and frequently we latter-day “saints” behave closer to latter-day “aint’s” when it comes to sharing the gospel and testifying of Christ. The excuses why many don’t share include:

FEAR #1: “I fear people won’t like what I say. I’m too sensitive to take criticism of my testimony.”

"The proud stand more in fear of men's judgment than of God's judgment. (See D&C 3:6-7; D&C 30:1-2; D&C 60:2). "What will men think of me?" weighs heavier than "What will God think of me?" (Ezra Taft Benson, "Beware of Pride," Ensign, May 1989, 5)

FEAR #2: “There are too many people here. I’m uncomfortable sharing my testimony with all these people.”
"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine." (Matthew 25:25)
INDECISION: “[Despite all that I’ve been blessed with], I don’t know what to say.”

INGRATITUDE: “Mehhhh, somebody else can thank that person for their testimony.”
"Give, and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:38)
SACREDNESS: “My testimony is just too sacred to share with other people.”
"The Spirit and testimony of Christ will come to you for the most part when, and remain with you only if, you share it. In that process is the very essence of the gospel. Is not this a perfect demonstration of Christianity? You cannot find it, nor keep it, nor enlarge it unless and until you are willing to share it. It is by giving it away freely that it becomes yours." (Elder Boyd K. Packer, "The Candle of the Lord" [A talk given at a seminar for new mission presidents, June 25, 1982])
AMBIVALENCE: “I’m too busy right now (watching tv / playing games / chatting with others on the internet). Maybe another time.”

SELF-DEFEATISM: “I’m not a scriptorian”, “My testimony is too simple” “I’m not good at [writing/speaking]” and the ever-popular “I’m just not on that spiritual level.”

TAKERS: “I’d rather sit and read what others say than share my testimony or gratitude.”
"No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light." (Luke 8:16)
God, having foreseen these church members who supposedly took upon them His name at baptism and weekly in Sacrament Meetings, had this to say about such responses:
"But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them." (D&C 60:2)
Of this scripture, President Spencer W. Kimball said,
"The Lord says in the 60th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, ‘With some I am not well pleased for they will not open their mouths’ (D&C 60:2). What does he mean? He says that if they do not use it, they will lose what he has given them. They lose their spirit. They lose their testimony. And this priceless thing that you have can slip right out of your life." (Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out on Testimony," New Era, Aug. 1981, p. 6)
He’s not alone:
"When we have something to tell others which will benefit them, protect them, or enlighten them, we should not hold back. There are so many people who are confused and discouraged and who want a better way of life. How grateful they are when someone takes the time to share their happiness and purpose in life. Will you seek to hear even more? You are a great power for good, providing your righteous potential is harnessed by service. (Elder Derek A. Cuthbert, "The Futility of Fear," New Era, Nov. 1985, p. 46)
"Sometimes we have among our missionaries those who are afraid because of the fear of man, and if you permit yourselves to get that spirit of fear, the adversary will back you up. He will support you. He will encourage you in it until you get to the point where you are afraid to exercise your authority and to bear testimony regarding this message. Remember the promise made in the first section: "And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them." (D&C 1:5) There is no place for fear. There is no place for discouragement, because you can't fail in this work if you do your part. There is no place for timidity or hesitancy. (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], p. 61-62)
So, if you think for one second that you’re spending eternity with Abraham, Moses, Nephi, Peter, John, Moroni, Joseph Smith and others who unhesitatingly, boldly and proudly testified of Jesus Christ -- while perpetuating excuses of why NOT to testify of Jesus -- you are grossly, horribly self-deceived...and need to repent.
“These are they [who are of the terrestrial] who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.” (D&C 76:71,79)

The Deception We Call "Learning by Observing"


Of particular note are those who say they’d rather learn than share, to be edified than to help edify, to be inspired rather than inspire.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just spend the day learning what others have learned?

To me, such behaviors indicate a lack of charity, because the person is thinking only about themselves and not others. How can such behavior possibly be compatible with Zion? And if it’s not, how can you possibly hope to survive the forthcoming tribulations which will weed out all but those with Zionlike thoughts and behaviors?
“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18)
The very concept of Zion flies in the face of selfishness. I mean, imagine a Zion in which people routinely took, but never shared...received, but never gave.
"Selfishness is the making a man's self his own centre, the beginning and end of all he doth." (John Owen, reported in Gardiner Spring, "Essays on the distinguishing traits of Christian character" (1829), p. 70)
"Show me the man who would go to heaven alone if he could, and I will show you one who will never be admitted there." (Owen Feltham, "Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers" p. 535)

The Antidote to Spiritual Selfishness


Selfishness can never be completely dethroned in the individual, or in society, until love has been completely enthroned. Love reigns only in proportion as selfishness is cast out.

And how is that done?



Know the Exemplar


The story is told of a man who was horribly disfigured in a car accident.

The tragedy left him in a sea of despair. There was nothing the plastic surgeons could do to repair his appearance. Tired of being stared at, ridiculed, mocked and feeling rejected, the man finally went into the solitude of his bedroom and refused to come out.

A couple of years passed, and no amount of coaxing from his wife could bring him out of the dark room.

Finally, his wife went to the plastic surgeon who tried to repair his face and said "Listen, I'm going to ask you to do something crazy here. I want you to mutilate my features to match my husband's. He's alone in his disfigurement and I want to keep him from being lonely.

The surgeon obviously refused. The lady insisted. The surgeon said, "Before I even consider this even further, I want to see your husband. Would you please take me to your home?"

There, standing in the hallway, the surgeon knocked on the door. He identified himself and asked the man to come out. The man said, "Go away. There's nothing anyone can do to help me."

The surgeon then said, "Well, let me tell you why I'm really here. I'm here because your wife has come to me, begging to be disfigured, so you don't have to live alone in your disfigurement anymore."

There was a long silence. And then the door opened, and the man stepped out of the dark room and into the light of day for the first time in many years.

So it was with Jesus’ incarnation. The beautiful, celestial one -- Jesus -- became the disfigured, mortal one...to keep us from being alone.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7)
The reason He did it: He just wanted to be with the ones He loves.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Jesus' incarnation serves as an example of how we should love and serve others. Just as God was manifest through Jesus, so Jesus is manifest in and through His believers. But they are not those who simply profess belief in Jesus. No. These are they who manifest His goodness, kindness, non-judgmentalism and love in their very beings.

Submitted


Time and again, when He was asked about His goodness, kindness, non-judgmentalism, love and more, Jesus was both consistent and quick as to the source of all those characteristics and qualities: His Father in Heaven.

I believe that the secret to a Christian life is submission -- particularly, submission to God.
“The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19)

“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)
“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)
Just as Jesus submitted Himself to the Father, so should we:
“Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9)
“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:29)

Aligned


Likewise, just as Jesus’ focus was indisputably focused on Father, so should we be focused on Jesus:

“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.” (D&C 88:67-68)

Transformed


It should be crystal clear to you by now that when you lose your life, you find it.

This is because -- well, quite frankly, Jesus is the answer to everything.

Your life is clearest seen in Jesus. Your life -- at its highest and best, brimming with potential, overflowing with capacity, aligned with purpose and destiny -- all of those things are seen at their best in Jesus.
“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." (Moroni 7:48; also see 1 John 3:2-3)

The Opportunity


This blog’s Facebook group is seriously maintained as a safe haven where we can discuss one topic and one topic only: JESUS CHRIST -- not only learning more about Him, but also developing a closer relationship with Him as well as developing attributes which are like Him. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The Terms and Conditions state:
We are passionate about maintaining this as a place where you are safe from judgment and criticism, falsehood and deception. Our sole focus is Jesus. True, topics like general conferences, leaders, priesthood and temples all point to Christ, but here, we focus not on the means, but the end. Not on the journey, but the destination point. Not on the persons, places or things which point to Him, but instead, *HIM* -- Jesus Christ.
In this post, you’ve hopefully gained some further light and knowledge regarding the importance of sharing and testifying of Jesus Christ, without excuse. You know what’s right. You know what’s expected of you. And now, you know what happens to those who aren’t valiant in their testimony of Jesus.
“For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” (D&C 82:3)
Now it’s up to you to take the next step.

It’s an easy one to make.

Click here.


3 comments:

  1. I love this post. There was a time in my life when I God gave me the gift of feeling my nothingness. I will never forget the fear that was put in my heart as I repented for my thoughts. It has always stayed with me. The only reason I am alive right now is by His grace. I am nothing without Him.

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  2. Truly, well said. Loved the scripture references that support the statements. I feel completely uplifted and full of hope having a better understanding of those things that were shared. Thank you for taking the time to write and share this. Writing and speaking are not a strength for me, so I have an incredible amount of gratitude to you for taking the time to do this so that it is easy to understand. Truly inspired. Thank you.

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  3. Beautifully stated. I’m still recuperating from being shown my nothingness, I’m thankful, but it’s still raw. This is so valid and contains such truth. I have been attempting to do his will for quite some time, it’s become easier. In the early years, I had been yelled at, laughed at and mocked by others. Now I find the beauty in doing as he askes no matter the response of man. Thank you for this.

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