The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

January 25, 2017

Caring for the Poor, Charity, Mother Teresa

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The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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July 31, 2016

C.S. Lewis, Caring for the Poor, Charity

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In the passage where the New Testament says that every one must work, it gives as a reason ‘In order that he may have something to give to those in need.’

Charity – giving to the poor is an essential part of Christian morality: In the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there are no poor to give to.

They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.

In other words, if our expenditures on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them.

I am speaking now of ‘charities’ in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbors or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position.

For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear – fear of insecurity. This must often be recognized as a temptation. Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.

C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity, page 86
(Paragraph breaks added to enhance online readability)

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November 2, 2015

Caring for the Poor, Charity, Mother Teresa

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A few quotes relating to Charity, the pure love of Christ, from Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.

We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.

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November 2, 2015

Amulek, Book of Mormon, Caring for the Poor, King Benjamin

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In his great Atonement sermon, King Benjamin makes an explicit connection between retaining forgiveness of our sins and caring for the poor.

At the beginning of Mosiah 4, the Nephites respond to Benjamin’s sermon by begging for forgiveness – “And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.” (Mosiah 4:2)

Because of their repentance and fervent prayer, they receive forgiveness – “ And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.” (Mosiah 4:3)

You might think that this would be enough.  The Nephites are free from sin.  But wise King Benjamin knows that their lives will go forward and they need further instruction on how to remain free from sin.

He tells them that they must continue to call upon God – “I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.” (Mosiah 4:11)

Benjamin also tells them if they do this, “ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.” (Mosiah 4:12)

He then tells them that if they are filled with the love of God, they will treat one another well and care properly for their children. (Mosiah 4:13-15)

Benjamin then tells the Nephites that if they are filled with the love of God, they will be diligent in caring for the poor.

“16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. ” (Mosiah 4:16-26)

I am always particularly struck by Verse 19 – “For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?”

The blessings of caring for the poor as King Benjamin’s outlines are that we will “retain a remission” of our sins (Verses 12, 26), that the Atonement will continue to be of full effect in our lives.  This is not the only requirement to continue the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, but it is a very important requirement.

Amulek makes exactly the same point in his great Atonement sermon.

“ 28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.

29 Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men. ” (Alma 34:28-29)

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