Charity Is All About What’s in Your Heart
I am indeed grateful for this opportunity. It’s not one that I relish, and I hope you’ll feel differently when I finish. I’m grateful that the president asked my sweetheart to bear her testimony. [Sister Wall’s testimony posted at end.] I learned this from President Richards. This is the reason why, and brethren, I warn you: Don’t listen to your roommate or your friend—listen to the Spirit. When Sister Wall was at BYU, I first beheld her in my junior year, and she was pretty goofy. At least, I thought she was goofy. She was running for student body vice president, and there had not been a young lady run for student body vice president, nor a president. Her roommate was running for president at Brigham Young. And they had the goofiest platform I had ever heard in my life.
But one day, she was walking across—this is not part of my talk, or address—she was walking across the campus out in front of the library, and that’s a good place for young men. At that time I was 25, and I’m almost getting to be a danger to society—so I thought it was a good idea to keep my eyes open. My friend was standing there who later became our best man, and I said, “Reed, why don’t you introduce me to that young lady?” Because she waved at him, and he waved at her, and they knew each other, obviously, and I didn’t know her. And I thought, “Wow, she is sure cute.”
And he said, “Oh, she’s not your type.” And that was the end of it. That was the end of it until I graduated and went to Virginia to go to boot camp, to Officer Candidate School, and a good friend of mine—a girl who I dated at Brigham Young University and who I’d known for a long time—was Heidi’s roommate. And I called and said, “Linda, could we date on the same grounds that we dated at BYU?” Because I knew I was on my way to Viet Nam and I didn’t want to be getting involved in problems there, with girls. It’s kind of like going on a mission—you don’t want to be involved before you go on a mission; you don’t want to be involved before you go into war. Or at least that was my thought.
And Linda said, “No, I can’t. I can’t date you.”
You know, I was a good Mormon boy. I’d never done anything wrong. And she said, “No, I’m engaged, and my fiancé wouldn’t appreciate it.”
I said, “Oh.”
“But,” she said, “I have four roommates and any one of them would be great, and I’ll introduce them to you. But I have one special one I’d like you to meet.” And it was Sister Wall. And so we met. It took her dad, a little encouragement to get me to finally ask her to marry—I was scared. You’d think a guy who had been a policeman and a Marine and all that stuff would have no fear. I was fearful of this young lady, but very, very grateful for a father’s intervention. And to tell you that, brethren, your roommate and your friend don’t always know about how things ought to be. You need to listen to the Spirit and he will guide you. And then you’ll find somebody special.
I hope to testify and hopefully to share some of the things I have experienced from life and in my vocation, encouraging and facilitating philanthropic gifts to the Church and its entities.
Recently I was impressed with one of your associates and fellow students, Gideon Carter, who came to a meeting I attended and quoted the following from your LDS Business College, Standards of Excellence:
“I am a child of God. I have the potential to become like Him and receive a fulness of His glory. As such, I have a boundless capacity to learn and grow regardless of my previous experiences. My potential is essentially limited only by my choices. Therefore, in all I do I will seek to find out what God wants done and learn how to do it, for I am determined to accomplish His will.
“In order to more fully realize my divine nature and destiny, I must call upon the help of heaven to magnify my hard work and sacrifice. I must always remember the centrality of the Savior in my life and how much I need the purifying power of His Atonement. I must live so that the Atonement can work in my life, so that I can qualify for all of the blessings of the Spirit, and so that light can flood into my life. Ultimately, I must live so that I can be endowed with power from on high.
“As I continually strive to seek, understand, and live by Truth, I shall inherit precious promises. With God, nothing shall be impossible; in His strength, I can do all things that are expedient for me. I will come to learn at astonishing rates and accomplish things beyond my natural capacity. I will become a beacon of hope, of light and love in an increasingly dark and turbulent world. I will behold many mighty miracles, find greater joy, live life more abundantly, and receive all of the blessings Heavenly Father has in store for me. Amen.”
That is an inspired document. Just like the faculty and president and staff that you have here at the Business College—they are inspired to love you and to serve you.
I was impressed because if you truly believe this and act accordingly you will treat your experiences here differently than a young man I recently received an e-mail from, asking that I remove his name from solicitations because some of his credits did not transfer to another school and that he would not give any resources to aid your education here.
If you follow that, you will really come to understand why you are here, and that the blessings of the Spirit are greater than the secular education that you earn.
Why would I be asked to visit with you, to share something of philanthropy and the part it plays in your lives? In the Church, philanthropic offerings are those we give freely. Tithing is a commanded offering, fast offering is an expected offering, but free-will offerings are those given freely and those the Church hopes for. The reason they are hoped for is this: These offerings are an outward expression of what is in our hearts. It is what our Father in Heaven desires every one of us to develop and possess. It is part of charity or love.
Before visiting more deeply about charity and love, I would like to testify to the words and testimonies you have heard in this semester’s devotionals, and share why I think God has established Church schools, even LDS Business College. I believe there are a couple of obvious purposes. The Business College provides a great secular education which is based on eternal principles where the faculty and what they teach is sifted through the eyewear of the gospel principles, where the Spirit can teach. This allows us to do wonderful things in this world and to support a family. Secondly, to have an environment of righteous sociality. You will meet people here who have an impact on your earthly lives and potentially on your eternal ones as well. That includes those of the opposite sex who are like-minded. Father in Heaven plans for you to meet someone so you fall in love, get married in the right place at the right time and raise a righteous posterity and be happy. If you ponder how you got here and what directed you, you will find by being here you will be blessed. It says so in the Doctrine and Covenants. It also teaches us this, the purpose for which you are here and for which you have come to earth:
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
“And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D&C 130:18-19)
When asked why we are here on earth, we often hear repeated the standard, what we’ve been taught as a youth: to gain a body so we can be like our Father in Heaven, but you see just coming here for a body isn’t good enough. Father expects much, much more of us. So when you come to devotionals, if you have prepared yourselves, you will take little pearls of thought and impressions from the Holy Spirit, and if you act on those impressions, preparing yourselves for what he has in store for you to do, you will be richly blessed and receive more direction of the Spirit.
You will recall that Bishop McMullen taught us from 2 Nephi 2:26 that because of the Messiah men are free to choose and act for themselves in this life. This does not mean that there are not forces that act upon us, such as gravity, the economy, or Satan, if we allow him. But it does mean that we can choose what we are and how we react to such forces as well as what we are becoming.
“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given [them].
“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”
I also wish to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and its ability to change us, as we learn from its teachings. Joseph Smith said; “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon)
We are taught that this book has been prepared for us in this day, for us specifically. I am convinced that it will prepare us for and carry us through our life’s experiences, by its study and application.
There are two powerful bookends in the Book of Mormon that have to do with what I feel to share about this morning. One is Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life. It is interesting but not surprising that his dream is found very close to the beginning to the book. It includes an interpretation by his prophet son Nephi.
In 1 Nephi, we learn that Lehi was led by an angel. He sees a tree “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” We learn that the tree is the love of God and representative of God’s son, the Holy Messiah. We learn that by partaking of this fruit, Jesus Christ, we are filled with joy and peace. In this narrative Moroni tells us of Lehi’s and Nephi’s experience. He sets the theme for the book we are to read and teaches us what to look for. He teaches us that love changes us and true love is found in Jesus Christ.
At the other end of the book is Moroni 10:32. This testimony and theme testifies that we must come unto Christ and be perfected in him:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”
We are instructed that to see Christ we must become as he is. The attributes of God are discussed and taught again and again in the scriptures. We are encouraged that we can develop and be blessed with those attributes. In fact in 3 Nephi 12:48 the Savior says; “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” I insert a little thought: when I proposed to Sister Wall, that night I remember very well, I was frightened. I got on my knees—you know, I’d seen some movies. I got on my knees in their home where they were staying, and I said, “Heidi, I’d like to ask you to marry me.” I was really scared. It had taken me a long time to get this courage up. I said, “But you need to understand one thing, and that is, that in our lives, there will be one Being more important than you and I. If you can accept that, I hope you will say yes.”
And she said this, and this shows her strength. She said, “I wouldn’t say yes if it weren’t so.”
And that brings me to my subject, the topic found throughout the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures—charity or love. We learn from Moroni 10: 20-21 that charity is the pure love of Christ and we must be found with it in order to be saved in the kingdom of Heaven. I want to be very clear when I speak of charity. Most of us think about alms giving when we think of charity, don’t we? I used to. Charity is not purely alms giving, but alms giving is an outward act of charity. Giving of one’s self, what we are and what we have, is an act of charity. I do not hold myself out as an example of one who is a charitable person nor an expert in charity, as I am still praying and attempting to develop the heart and actions of Christ like or to be like a charitable person. But you can witness in the actions of a mother or grandmother, charity. I suspect that is why the theme of the Relief Society is “Charity Never Faileth,” because the sisters of this Church often exemplify charity or love. They selflessly give of themselves to bless others.
Let me share an example of a man I know whose life seems to be in keeping with the principle of giving of one’s self. About two years ago I was asked to visit with this goodly brother and determine if he would give 1 million dollars to help build a building at Brigham Young University—Provo. His wife had just passed away, leaving him with eight children to take care of, two preparing for a mission and one who was then serving, and a business that was challenged with surviving the economy we are now experiencing. When asked if he would give a million dollars he said to me. “If the brethren are asking the answer is yes, but I will have to sell my home. Is that what I am being asked to do?” I told him no. His heart was right; he loves the Lord and desires to build the kingdom. This good man had learned what Jacob teaches in the Book of Mormon:
“Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
“But before ye seek for riches, seek ye … the kingdom of God.
“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2: 17-19)
Recently my son David pointed out a charitable act recorded in ESPN magazine by Ron Reilly. I quote parts from this story: In the scrub-brush town of Queen Creek, Arizona, high school bullies were tormenting a sophomore, Chy Johnson, a young lady whose brain works on a 3rd grade level because of a genetic birth defect but who has been mainstreamed. They were pushing her, calling her stupid and throwing trash at her. “The permanent smile and gleam in her eye” that was always there before had disappeared. “She came home crying and upset each evening.”
Her mother, Liz Johnson, did not know what to do after talking with administrators and teachers at the school and receiving no help. She remembered the young man that had escorted Chy to the Special Olympics and asked Carson Jones help. “Just keep your ear to the ground,” Liz Johnson told Carson, “maybe get me some names?” Carson did something better than that. He invited Chy to join him at the lunch table where he and his teammates sat for lunch; you see Carson was the quarterback on the football team and well respected in the school. Things got better for Chy, her smile and joy of others returned. The running back Tucker Workman made sure someone walked with Chy between classes. In classes, cornerback Colton Moore made sure Chy sat in the row behind the team. Chy now attends all the games and is often in their huddle up and cheer before the games start. Liz, Chy’s mother is concerned about next year, what will happen when Chy’s “boys” and Carson graduate and Carson leaves for a Mormon mission. Not to worry. Carson’s younger brother, Curtis, told his mother, “I got this.” (http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/8579599/chy-johnson-boys)
You see, charity is not about money, it is about your heart, how you feel about Father in Heaven and His children. It is about love, kindness, and civility. It is an attribute of godliness and comes as we work to overcome the natural man, and plead with God for its bestowal. Some seem naturally endowed with it. They may be, but for most of us, we have to work to develop it. It is another blessing from a loving Father. Father provided this teaching, which helps us train our hearts.
We learn, in 4 Nephi, the following. It’s a little tiny book, just four pages, that was put in there. But if you want to be happy, read 4 Nephi, because it teaches you how. Interesting that it’s so small and yet, Mormon or Moroni, I don’t know who included it in the book—somebody included it there, thought that it had to be, whether it was Mormon or his son Moroni, for our benefit.
“And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” (4 Nephi 1:2)
“It came to pass that there was no contention in the land because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” (v. 15)
“And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” (v. 16)
You see, that’s why those little four pages are important for you to read and understand and pray about. There could not be a happier people, because they loved the Lord and they loved each other.
We learn from Moses that “the Lord called his people Zion because they were of one heart and one mind, and [they] dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18) One might assume financially poor, but this poor covers all aspects of their lives, because there are spiritually poor, also. There are poor amongst us all over.
This period of your life’s experience is a time to learn provident and frugal living in every way so you can have time, talent and treasure to share. In the humility of days filled with stress as a student, if you rely on your Father in Heaven and think of others, share a kind word or a few moments of your precious time, ponder upon how I can serve and love today—you will find great blessings. Although your grades will be of importance, of greater importance will be what I can learn, what does Father in Heaven want me to be. In doing so you become a disciple of the Savior. It may be said of you, “surely there could not be a happier people who had been created by the hand of God.” (4 Nephi 1:16)
May the blessing of charity or love be in your lives. May you be perfected in the service of our Master, even Jesus Christ, and be found happy. I bear testimony that Jesus Christ lives. He was resurrected. He is our Savior, and He loves us beyond comprehension. As you love each other, as you are charitable in all you do, in all you think, in all you act, you will be happy. [This] is my testimony, in Jesus’ name, amen.