Jesus Christ, Charity, and Heavenly Motivators

February 10, 2008  Sacrament meeting talk.  by Ammon Shepherd

Charity = the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love; a prompting motive of actions. Charity is a defining quality, it creates change.
Moroni 7:46-47 – charity is the greatest of all;
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 – if I have ___ but not charity, I am nothing.
Matthew 22:36-40 – love is the greatest commandment. All other laws and the principle of having prophets rests and is built on this foundation.

Christ’s Examples
Christ showed us the greatest examples of charity.  John 15:12-13 shows us the greatest act of charity.  Christ’s examples of charity come in great and small ways.

  • Luke 22:41-44 – The great intercessory prayer shows His ultimate love for all of us.
  • Alma 7:11-13 – description of Atonement.
  • Luke 22:50-51 – heals the man’s ear
  • Luke 23:33-34 – (see footnote c) forgives those who crucify Him
  • 3 Nephi 17:2-7 – Jesus’ bowels are filled with mercy
  • John 8: 1-11 – Jesus does not condemn the woman, but loves her and forgives her as she repents.

All of Christ’s examples point to one important requirement for developing and using charity in our interaction with others.  1 Corinthians 13:4-5 – suffereth long, envieth not, vaunteth not itself, not puffed up, seeketh not her own.  Moroni 7: 44 – meek and lowly in heart.  In order to have charity, one must be humble.

In thinking how Christ’s examples of charity can influence me, I came to think upon how we learn as humans and what motivates us.  Basically, how can I apply what I learned about Christ’s examples of charity in my own life?

Physical Senses
There are varying levels of understanding, or ways to comprehend, the world we live in.  Babies primarily use the sense of taste.  Everything goes into their mouths.  That is how they compare new things with those they already know.  As they grow, children begin to rely more on their other senses too: touch, sight, smell and hear.  They are curious and want to touch and see EVERYTHING!  We learn, understand and believe things about life through these senses.  These are physical ways to understand, to learn, and to know.

Six Motivators
There are additional ways to understand and learn which are mainly emotional.  As we grow older, we learn to rely on these senses as well.  These senses are what motivate us to do just about everything in life.  Like many things, they denote a progression from least to greatest, from bad to good to best.  As we move to higher levels of understanding and act the higher law, we fulfill his admonition in Matt 5:48 to be perfect even as the Father is.  We progress to be more like Christ (see Ether 12:48).  These six motivators are force, fear, rewards, duty, faith and love – or charity.

External Motivators
The first three motivators (force, fear, and rewards) are external, they are applied to us, or we use them to gain control over others.  They are focused outwardly.  They are all a form of consequence.  We can see them most often used when a parent disciplines their children incorrectly and unwisely.  I know, I use these motivators my self all too often.  We often hear, “If you finish dinner you can have desert” or “No desert until you finish your dinner!” or “You’re going to finish dinner or else!”  In the grown up world we seem to be no better.

Internal Motivators
There are better ways, higher ways, heavenly ways (duty, faith, and love).  As we climb the emotional motivator ladder, we reach the higher rungs where God dwells.  We begin to use the motivator that He uses, love – or charity.  These motivators do not seek to get others to do, but seek to prompt ourselves to action.  They are focused inwardly.  They ask, “What must I do to achieve results?” rather than “What must others do?” or “How can I make others change?”  This gets at the heart of Christ’s saying in Matt. 10:39 “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

  • Duty: D&C 107: 99 – let every man learn his duty…  As we learn our duties, we put ourselves in a position to learn, understand, and grow.  “How can I do my part?” is what motivates us.
  • Faith: Ether 12:6 – Faith is an emotional motivator. We hope for an outcome we do not know for sure will happen.  We pay 10% of our income to the Church as tithing because of faith.  “What should I do?” is what we ask.
  • Charity:  Galatians 4:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Charity is the greatest commandment, the ultimate motivator, the eternal force.

In trying circumstances, charity helps us suspect the best in others.  For example, when work is stressful and sleep is extra-needful, a crying baby throughout the night can make a parent want to pull out hair and scream with frustration and weariness.  But by applying the lens of charity to our view of he situation, we can filter our perspective, gain control of out thoughts and emotions, and act with love – even act as Christ would act.  We realize that a baby is continually learning.  He must learn to put himself back to sleep at night, must learn to be calm.  As a  parent, I am to teach that child.  There is no ill or malicious intent in a baby, and believe it or not, neither is there in small children.  Moroni teaches us in Moroni 8:8, little children are not capable of committing sin.  They are all in a learning process.  Our love for them and our level of charity will allow us to see their intentions as positive, and allow us to teach in a loving manner.

Repentance is a gift of charity
We should not be discouraged when we find ourselves falling short and using the lesser motivators.  One of the greatest acts of charity that Christ gives us constantly is that of repentance.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “You can change anything you want to change and you can do it very fast. That’s another Satanic sucker-punch—that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say ‘I’ll change’—and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend—indeed you had better spend—the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, repentance can come for you as instantaneously as it did for Alma and the Sons of Mosiah” (“Tempering Our Tempers,” Ensign, Feb 2008, 54–57).

Christ is the perfect example
Christ is the perfect example of every good thing.  As we look to Christ for examples of how to live our lives, we see that humility and charity will play a central role.  We truly “find our lives” by losing it for His sake.  Through charity we learn how to view or situations as God does.  There is always a choice in how we feel.

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