Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pure Love

Before the end of his life, the prophet Mormon gave us one of the most powerful sermons ever delivered on faith, hope and charity. (See Moroni 7.) In this sermon Mormon explains that faith is the means by which we obtain everything good.  He goes on to explain that the reason we can hope for (or expect) all things good is because of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  

At the end of the sermon Mormon tells us to seek after charity which is the pure love of Christ. Charity is “Benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity; The providing of help; The inclination to think well of others; or spiritual benevolence.” This love is not an emotion like we experience as mortal love, it is a power that fills us with divine attributes.

But one of the factors that helps us understand faith, hope, and charity as Mormon is teaching them is not in the words themselves but in the prepositions used with the words. Mormon speaks of “faith in Jesus Christ.” In is a function word used to “indicate inclusion, location, or position with limits.” It also indicates “means, medium, or instrumentality.” Thus the means by which faith works is for us to use our agency to choose to place (position) our belief in Jesus Christ. In other words, we trust in Him.

When Mormon speaks of hope he tells us to “hope for.” For is a function word that indicates a goal or an intended purpose. So our goal is to receive the promised blessings of Jesus Christ. We expect them to come to us because we have faith in Him.

But when Mormon speaks of charity he explains that this pure love is of Jesus Christ. Of is a function word that indicates origin or derivation. It also indicates possessiveness or characteristics or distinctive qualities. Thus charity belongs to Jesus. It is possessed by Him and it comes to us as a gift that empowers us to feel toward others what God and the Savior feel for us.

Faith and hope, then, are things that we use our agency to gain and develop. They are things we choose by our thoughts, words, and actions. But charity is a power of divinity that is shared with mortals who use their faith and  hope to seek after and be worthy of it. It is not something we can generate on our own. As Mormon says, “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” (Moroni 7:48).

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