A while back I wrote about a fairly well known fable about the long-handled spoons.  That ability and desire to serve and to meet another’s needs without thought or concern for one’s own needs is charity.   To me, charity, like other Christlike attributes, cannot be obtained through sheer willpower alone.  In fact, it may be that the more we exert our will to become charitable, the more ellusive it becomes.

“Divine attributes simply cannot be forced. We must open our hearts to the influence of God and “let [our] bowels . . . be full of charity towards all men . . . and let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly.” Only then shall our “confidence wax strong in the presence of God” and in a consistently unforced manner, “the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon [our] soul[s] as the dews from heaven.” (D&C 121:45; emphasis added.)”

I generally read “let” in this context as a command- “to cause or to make.”  But the author seems to imply that another meaning is possible- “to allow” by submitting our will to God’s.

There are other valuable insights in this article titled “It Takes More Than Willpower.”  See here for the full reference or to read the article.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is great example of charity and compassion.  Jesus gave this parable after answering the lawyer’s question about how to obtain eternal life:  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”  When the lawyer asked “And who is my neighbor?”, Jesus gave the parable that we refer to as the Good Samaritan.  (Luke 10: 25-42)

Much has been written about this great parable.  I particularly like this post from “Dr. Wally’s” blog and this article from the Ensign titled The Good Samaritan:  Forgotten Symbols by John Welch.  As I learn more about the rich symbolism in Christ’s words I am amazed at the masterful teacher that he is.  Elder Wirthlin’s excellent talk “The Great Commandment” is also worth re-reading.

Our challenge then, is to develop the same compassion, charity, and love as the Samaritan (typifying Christ) demonstrated.  This pure, unconditional love is the kind of love that God has for his children, and he asks us to have this same kind of love:  “As I have loved you, love one another.”  I think it is not coincidental that Jesus’ request “Be ye therefore perfect (complete, finished, fully developed)” is preceded by instruction to love others and specifically to love those that may be difficult for us to love.

Although I don’t believe we can develop charity strictly by our own will, I do believe that this is something that we need to seek.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers here.  In Moroni we are instructed to pray to be filled with this love.  In the same verse we read that this love is bestowed upon all that are true followers of Christ.  As we pray for this blessing and especially as we selflessly serve others (as true followers of Christ), our hearts and our perspectives are changed- we begin to see the needs of others and to care more for them than for ourselves.  I’m sure there are exceptions, but I see the development of charity as a process.  I can’t say that I have the pure love of Christ, but I have glimpses of charity when I am able to forget myself in the service of others.

The following scripture from Moroni 7 sums up the importance of charity:

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

  47 But acharity is the pure blove of Christ, and it endureth cforever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
I hope others will add their thoughts and ideas about developing the pure love of Christ.