Saturday, January 16, 2010

Charity, Forgiveness, and Loving Others

Elder Marvin J. Ashton once said,

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don't judge or categorize someone else, when we simply five each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet Charity is accepting someone's differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resiting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn't handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.

How often do we find ourselves judging others without knowing them or their circumstance? I know that I myself have done it on many occasions, often without even realizing it. Charity is not expecting others around us to fit our needs, rather it is about accepting each person as they are and being willing to forgive. Being charitable is no easy task, especially when it is SO easy to be judgmental and unforgiving sometimes. Life is more than being right in an argument, it's more than living the ideal life, it's more than me and you. Charity is more than merely helping others. Charity is helping others reach their true potential; it's helping others realize they are sons and daughters of a divine Heavenly Father; it's being willing to forgive even when what they've done has really hurt us.
I recently read a story about a woman who had suffered in a bad relationship. She had thought that she had married the wrong man. He had no interest in the Church and had treated her very unkindly for several years. When she prayed to ask the Lord if He would approve of a divorce, she had a unique experience. Instead of being told that she ought to follow through with a divorce, she was counseled by the Spirit to recognize her own imperfections, instead of focusing solely on her husbands'. After that experience, she strove to become more compassionate, loving, and understanding. As she changed, so did her husband, and within a few years, their problems had been resolved, and they were able to be sealed in the temple.
In this story, instead of focusing on her husband's problems, she turned to fix her own. By doing so, she was not only able to reconnect with her husband and save her marriage, she was also able to grow spiritually and help him do the same.

Having charity means that we must be able to forgive. Without forgiveness, charity could not exist. The worst thing we can do for ourselves and our relationships with others is not forgiving them. The Savior told us in Matthew 5:7 that faultfinding in others does not work. This is not to say that this is the easiest thing in the world to do. In fact, quite the contrary. It can be really hard sometimes to say "I am truly sorry." Especially when the offense has hit so close to home and cuts deep.

No one is perfect, but we all ought to strive towards perfection. We can all do this through charity, forgiveness, and a genuine love and concern for others.

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