Lesson 20: Walking the Savior’s Path of Charity
I would start by asking the class to think about what is charity? If they say, “the pure love of Christ,” like I did, I would ask for more. What does it look like in action?
President Hunter, as outlined in the lesson, describes a process of testing the purity of gold that involves rubbing it across a touchstone. Gold would leave a mark on the stone, and it’s purity could be determined by the color of the mark. He goes on to say:
“The touchstone of compassion is a measure of our discipleship; it is a measure of our love for God and for one another. Will we leave a mark of pure gold or, like the priest and the Levite, pass by on the other side?”
President Hunter shared this quote from Joseph Smith:
“If we would secure and cultivate the love of others, we must love others, even our enemies as well as friends. … Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst.” (History of the Church, 5:498–99.)
And went on to add:
“That is magnificent counsel today, even as it was [then]. The world in which we live, whether close to home or far away, needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides the only way the world will ever know peace. We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us.”
Rather than seeing this as a call to preach, I see it as a call to serve. Spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ means loving, caring, and looking out for one another, regardless of whatever artificial boundaries there are between us.
This would be a good time to talk about having charity for those in our congregations and families who struggle with their belief. When someone shares their doubt with you, they are making themselves very vulnerable. That is not the time to call them to repentance. It is the time to love them even more. It may be the tipping point for them in terms of whether they stay or go. Don’t assume that their doubt is a sign of weakness. In my experience it takes a lot of courage to explore ideas that may threaten deeply held beliefs or dear relationships.
Another point that might be good to talk about is self-compassion. Chieko Okazaki said:
“Only you know your circumstances, your energy level, the needs of your children, and the emotional demands of your other obligations. Be wise during intensive seasons of your life. Cherish your agency, and don’t give it away casually. Don’t compare yourself to others — nearly always this will make you despondent. Don’t accept somebody else’s interpretation of how you should be spending your time. Make the best decision you can and then evaluate it to see how it works.”
As human beings, we are entitled to personal revelation. Though others might judge our choices or try and make us feel badly about it, we can move forward with confidence. The quickest way, from my experience anyway, to loose agency is to give in to self-doubt and self-criticism. When that happens, we are giving other people the reigns, which kind of negates the point of having agency in the first place. Practicing self-compassion allows us to maintain our agency and relationship with God.
Something you could maybe give your class to think about: what is a group/type of person that you find yourself having a difficult time showing compassion to? What can you do to increase your understanding? What are some circumstances in which you have a hard time showing your self-compassion? What can you do to change that?