How Do We Develop Charity?

The women in our congregation recently held a discussion on charity that inspired me to think a lot about how I interact with others. Am I choosing to have charity for those around me? When I serve others, is it for personal gain? Let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy to have charity for the elderly woman, but what about the person who just cut you off in traffic?

Often, when I pray, I ask God to help me find those in need. I ask “who can I help today?” Yet, being human, I sometimes find myself picking and choosing who I serve. I came across this scripture in the Book of Mormon the other night:

And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” –Alma 7:24

I realized that maybe I should be going about practicing charity from a different direction.

Maybe I should be strengthening my faith, keeping up hope and praying for God to give me charity. As I acquire those qualities, I will “abound in good works” and do them, more likely, with the pure love of Christ – which is charity.

How do you find opportunities to serve those in your everyday life or community? How do you acquire charity?

4 thoughts on “How Do We Develop Charity?

  1. Tiffany

    Melanie,

    This is a great question. Charity is something that I have been working to develop since I was 14. Unfortunately, it is something that I still struggle with at times. However, I find that as I act on the charitable thoughts I have, the more charitable I feel, and so the more charitable I act. However, charity is more than just act of kindness, it is developing the pure love of Christ. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:3 – And though I bestow all my goods to feed the apoor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

    I think the first step in developing charity is finding or praying for the desire to be charitable. Then comes praying for a change in heart, and for opportunities to practice being charitable, and for the ability to be charitable.

    Ultimately I think that having charity is both an internal and an external quality. We need to do acts of charity, but part of the true transition to having the pure love of Christ is feeling and thinking in charitable ways.

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  2. Eric

    An alternate reading to the well-known (among Mormons, anyway) Moroni 7:48 gives insight:

    “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.”

    While the typical reading (that we should pray for the pure love of Christ) is certainly valid, there is another reading that I think is helpful. You can read the first phrases as “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart [and as a consequence] ye may be filled with this love”.

    In our quest to develop the pure love of Christ, we should certainly be praying for that gift. But I have learned in my life that simply praying with all energy of heart to God makes me more loving, regardless what I’m praying for. I feel closer to Him. I see things more clearly as He does. I feel the love that He has for me and know that He loves others the same. Being closer to God through earnest prayer, I can’t but help feeling more love for others.

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  3. Brett Puterbaugh

    Thank you for this insight, I believe that there is a lot of truth to that point. I feel the same way when I pray with all of my heart. I also believe that we can develop charity for others by including them in our prayers, as we pray with all our heart.

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  4. Valerie Ipson

    I’ve been on a quest for charity so I loved the scripture in Alma you mentioned. Very thought-provoking as we often switch those around.

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