Saturday, October 17, 2015

1 Corinthians 13:13 -- On No-Fail Charity: The Greatest Kind of Love

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
1 Corinthians 13:13

I was reading this today, and I don't think that the impact of what Paul is saying here had really hit me before.  Charity is bigger than faith, which can move mountains.  Charity is bigger than hope, which is sometimes the only reason we get out of bed in the morning.  Both of those are amazing comparisons.  And not discounting faith and hope at all.  On the contrary.  The vast importance of both of them just serves to point out the unique position of charity as greater.
In 2 Nephi 26:30 we learn that charity is love, but it is a specific kind of love, which Moroni 7:47 describes as "the pure love of Christ."  It goes on to say that we are supposed to learn this type of love, and if we do, then it will be well with us at the last day.  Which is a pretty good promise, and kind of all encompassing.  If we really learn this one thing, it seems like we'll be okay.  As Proverbs 10:12 and 1 Peter 4:8 say, love and charity cover a multitude of sins.  And I think they do.  Maybe not as in "I can sin all I want as long as I am filled with love," but more like "If I learn to love, then I won't be tempted to sin" or "As I learn to love I will want to change my life and repent of my sins naturally."
The idea of charity goes along with the two great commandments, to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It helps us clarify the type of love a little bit though.  The pure love of Christ isn't the everyday type of love that we have for our friends and family.  That kind of love is essential of course, but when we graduate up to the pure love of Christ, we have to remember some of the things that Christ taught.  For instance Matthew 5:44 "Love your enemies . . . do good to them that hate you." In addition, we have Christ's example of not condemning the woman taken in adultery.  The Lord can't look on sin with the least degree of allowance (D&C 1:33, Alma 45:16), but he can, and does, refuse to condemn us, and tells us to "go, and sin no more" (John 8:11, and similar statements in D&C 6:35, 24:2, and 82:7).  If we love as Christ loved, we need to have a similar compassion, and allow sinners room to repent without our condemnation.
Christ loved the people that came to arrest him, and healed one when his own followers attacked him (Luke 22:51).  Christ asked his Father to forgive the soldiers who crucified him (Luke 23:34).  That's the kind of love that makes charity the greatest of all, and is why in Moroni 7:46 we learn that all things must fall, but that "charity never faileth."  Today, let's rely on the greatest principle and the one that can never fail.  Let's learn how to have charity: to love in God's way.

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