Charity, love reveal feelings about God
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When the Savior asked Peter His apostle this question: "Lovest thou me more than these?" (John 21:15). He wasn't curious about whether or not He was popular or even anxious to know if Peter really liked Him. He did want Peter to examine himself and determine which way he faced. Peter's livelihood and in all probabilities the one activity that he really loved was fishing. Now the Savior is asking Peter to evaluate his love, his loyalty, his commitment to God by saying in essence, "Which way are you facing Peter — God or man?"
Perhaps one of the sure tests of our love for God is deciding what is more important to us in this life, things of the world, or the things of God. When given the opportunity of getting up early on a morning that you could sleep in a little, to either attend the temple or go fishing, would you jump at the chance for one and not the other? Do you inwardly complain about an assignment to serve but can hardly wait to play basketball?
These questions and many more like them are helpful in allowing us to recognize what our relationship with God is. The Savior's response to Peter when he answered in the affirmative was, "Feed my lambs" (John 21:15).
We learn in the scriptures that this pure love for God is called charity, "charity is the pure love of Christ" (Moroni 7:47). When possessed with charity, obedience becomes a delight rather than something to stifle creativity, reaching out to others becomes a quest rather than a burden and you are patient when someone doesn't understand or is discouraged rather than being put out. There are so many examples of charity in our society.
I know of a family who gratefully took in an aging father who could no longer care for himself. He required constant care; it meant big changes to the family's lifestyle. However, his daughter felt like their family could provide the love and personal care for him that he wouldn't get anywhere else. As they cared for their father and grandfather they developed even greater charity for everyone they met. Charity leads us to action and as we give of ourselves in the service of others God blesses us with even greater charity.
The Lord has promised some powerful blessings for those who are filled with this love. The prophet Moroni admonishes us to "pray with all the energy of heart" (Moroni 7: 48) for the gift of charity.
Notice the promised blessings that come to those who have charity:
1. To become the sons of God.
2. To be like Him.
3. To see Him as He is
4. To be purified even as He is pure.
Indeed, charity is the "greatest of all" (Moroni 7:46) and will bring an increase of faith and hope to each of us in a world filled with turmoil.
Kenneth Peterson is an institute instructor at the Salt Lake City Utah University Institute of Religion.