The lesson in Relief Society last week was on charity. We have a new teacher who is down to earth and sincere, and I really enjoyed her presentation of the lesson.
When she began the lesson, I opened it up on my cell phone, skimmed it through, and then set my phone down to listen. As I listened, the words I skimmed from the last portion of the written lesson stayed clear in my mind, and I felt like I might want to comment when we began discussing that portion. I don't tend to comment in relief society any more because when I feel like I have something worth saying, it usually contradicts what I assume is the majority view in the room.
The first paragraph of the lesson is a summary, and it says:
"The life of the Savior reflects His pure love for all people. He even gave His life for us. Charity is that pure love which our Savior Jesus Christ has. He has commanded us to love one another as He loves us. The scriptures tell us that charity comes from a pure heart (see 1 Timothy 1:5). We have pure love when, from the heart, we show genuine concern and compassion for all our brothers and sisters."
The last part of the lesson talks about loving all people, even if we don't approve of something about them.
"Even when we give to those in need, unless we feel compassion for them we do not have charity (see 1 John 3:16-17). The Apostle Paul taught that when we have charity we are filled with good feelings for all people. We are patient and kind. We are not boastful or proud, selfish or rude. When we have charity we do not remember or rejoice in the evil others have done..."
"The Savior was our example of how to feel toward and treat others. He despised wickedness, but He loved sinners in spite of their sins..."
Toward the end of the lesson, after another sweet sister expressed that charity includes not judging others for any reason, I felt like I should comment, and I raised my hand. I started by saying I hoped I could express myself appropriately, but that experiences in my life with my friends over the last couple of years had taught me that there is really no such thing as "love the sinner, but hate the sin." In order to truly love someone, we need to overlook the things we don't approve of. That doesn't mean we need to embrace those things ourselves, but it is usually best not to lecture people about what we believe they are doing wrong. In most cases they already know how we feel. I became slightly emotional as I mentioned that if I had not learned to embrace this attitude, that the current state of my family and daily life for my children would be much more difficult.
The teacher thanked me for my comment and moved on. I'm sure there are people who do not agree with me, that would rather follow the advice from church leaders that we have a responsibility to call our brothers and sisters to repentance. That is apparently how we truly show our love for them. But I have to disagree, and I hope my comment helped others to think about the gray area of showing true charity.
6 days ago