While reading 1 Corinthians chapter 13, I was pondering how this scripture seemed to directly apply to those who have doubts about Joseph Smith, the prophets & apostles, the Church, the Book of Mormon, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Charity is not just about giving to the poor, it is also defined as: lenient judgment of others, kindness and tolerance in judging others, forbearance, and love of humankind.
I’ve always known that we need to have charity towards our fellowmen, but as I’ve been pondering this, it is not just charity towards our neighbors or strangers, and it’s not just towards the poor, although that is all very good as well. As I read this chapter in the New Testament, I thought of how we need to have charity towards Joseph Smith, how we need charity towards the modern-day prophets and apostles, and we really need to have charity towards our local leaders. We cannot let our pride get in the way of this charity. Might it be that some who recently have taken issue with the Church, its policies, and some of the history might just lack charity? This charity that is required, suffers long and causes us to be forgiving and tolerant in our judgement of others.
Maybe it’s just me, but I had never thought of charity in this respect before. I’ve always equated it with we need to be charitable to the poor and needy. You may read these verses differently too in this context. So, I invite you to read this in the context of having charity towards Joseph Smith and the Latter-day prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In verse 1, 2 and 3, the “I” is you and me.
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Verse 9. I also read this verse differently for the first time. Right now we only know in part. Joseph Smith was forbidden to share everything with us, just as other prophets have been forbidden to write things, as we read in the Book of Mormon. When asked about the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith simply said it was done by “by the gift and power of God.” He did not elaborate. He was not supposed to.
I’ve heard a lot of arguments trying to discredit Joseph Smith through the years. The truth is, nobody knows what Joseph Smith went through. We weren’t there in the sacred grove. We weren’t there when Moroni appeared to him. We weren’t there for the translation of the Book of Mormon and all of the revelations. We were not there with the three witnesses who were shown the gold plates by the power of God, nor were we with the eight witnesses who also saw the gold plates. We are left to rely on faith and charity.
So what do I know? Well, I know that speaking about the first vision, Joseph Smith said, “For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon) What more could you say if you had seen a vision than what Joseph Smith said here? I believe Joseph Smith.
Verse 10. When that which is perfect is come. When Jesus Christ comes again, we shall know the whole truth. That which is in part will be done away. We will stand at the bar of God with Moroni. We shall know the truth.
I remember on my mission being asked if I had ever seen the gold plates. I haven’t. So, what do I know then about this Book of Mormon? Well, I know that Moroni, the final prophet-writer in the Book of Mormon, with as much conviction as the written language can possible convey, said, “The time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?” Moroni 10:27 These words are so powerful. What could he say more than this to try and convince us and anyone who reads his writing, of the truthfulness of his words? I believe Moroni. In fact while some may say that I can not know, I will indeed say not only do I believe, but I know this to be true. Yes, I know it. I can and do know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God by the Holy Ghost which has testified its truthfulness to my heart. This is how God communicates with me.
There is no shortage of those trying to find fault with Joseph Smith. However, instead being critical of Joseph Smith or of the Book of Mormon or of the prophet and apostles, charity would have us “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
My heart at times is heavy as I look in my family, as I look at some of my friends, and as I look at some of my neighbors who have for one reason or another, decided the Church is not for them. It’s a heartbreaking time. It is the last days. I am seeing far too many fellow saints leave the Church. I know I should not be surprised since we are in the last days, but it’s hard to be in it and see it happening. So many are being led astray. Their faith has faltered. It seems the very elect of God are having their hearts fail them. Oh how we need charity now more than ever.
46 Cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Moroni 7:46-47
I’m trying to have more charity towards others. I’m trying to criticize less. I’m trying to be less judgmental.
After writing this post, I discovered this talk which I love by President Hinckley. I’ve listened to it several times now. He also talks about having patience and less criticism towards others. You can read it here on this link or watch it below: Charity never faileth. Gordon B. Hinckley