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The mantle of charity

The Lord taught, "And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace." (Doctrine and Covenants 88:125.)

Illustrating how essential this charitable covering is in our lives, the scriptures identify ways to recognize those clothed with charity. Amulek explained: " . . . if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need — I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.

"Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross. . . . " (Alma 34:28-29.)

Clearly, wearing charity on a daily basis is necessary to our eternal well-being.

Based upon Amulek's and other scriptural counsel, we can evaluate how earnest we are in seeking charity and how charity is evidenced in our own behavior, thought and feelings.

A telling and tender example of how charity is manifest in our feelings is found in the words of the prophet Mormon as he taught his son Moroni about the love the Lord has for little children. Mormon expressed his own feelings this way: "And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love. . . . " (Moroni 8:17.)

Particular types of actions also manifest our willingness to drape charity upon our hearts. For instance, Isaiah advised, "Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." (Isaiah 1:17.) Of course, this list is not comprehensive, but the actions comprised in relieving the oppressed and pleading for the widows are representative of the many ways we manifest charity.

A sister explained her experience in understanding how her own efforts to help others were based upon charity. She learned in her family much of what Paul meant when he stated simply, "Let all your things be done with charity." (1 Corinthians 16: 14.) In her own girlhood, her mother delivered endless gifts of food to ailing neighbors, new parents, for funerals and ward parties, as well as to the weary and aged.

As an adult, she realized that in her own youthful inexperience, she had thought that charity could be summed up in these gifts of food. Her own scriptural study, her own desires to become more charitable led her to the discovery that while casseroles and home-baked bread in themselves are not charity, certainly these creations borne lovingly of our hearts and hands demonstrate the doctrine of charity.

Charity can wrap around families in our own homes and in our own wards in many fine ways that have nothing to do with food. Charity is manifest when a Young Women president seeks out a Laurel who does not attend Church regularly. It is evident when a home teacher and his family bring an elderly widow to a ward party. It is felt when the Primary chorister helps the deacons rehearse a song they'll perform at the next sacrament meeting. In a hundred small ways, all in the ward family wear the mantle of charity.

Charity can be equally visible in a school or work place. A man facing a tough decision about how to handle a difficult interpersonal situation with a co-worker went first to the scriptures where he read:

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (Moroni 7:45.)

This spiritual listing and the truth that "if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth" (Moroni 7:46) strengthened him. He knew well that charity is not a doormat doctrine. By being charitable, he was not waiting to be kicked again. Rather, he felt called to work toward resolution with long-suffering and kindness.

Charity is a spiritual gift requiring that we "pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart." (Moroni 7:48.) With it wrapped pervasively around us, we can enrich the lives of others and draw closer to the Lord.