Harmless, Part 4

The list of things we ought not do or be are endless. Perhaps it was King Benjamin who put it best: “And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds…” NC Mosiah 2:6.

Based on Benjamin’s statement we have the ability to offend God and violate His commandments in at least three levels: We can sin in our thoughts. We can sin in our words. We can sin in our deeds. Given that sobering thought, there must be some way to get it right. Turns out there is a solution to this challenge:

Harmless: Charity

In the Answer to the Prayer for Covenant the Lord counseled us: “Be of one heart, and regard one another with charity. Measure your words before giving voice to them, and consider the hearts of others. Although a man may err in understanding concerning many things, yet he can view his brother with charity and come unto me, and through me he can with patience overcome the world. I can bring him to understanding and knowledge. Therefore, if you regard one another with charity, then your brother’s error in understanding will not divide you.” T&C 157:53.

It is probably safe to assume we all “err in understanding concerning many things.” But that alone does not condemn us. Apparently the Lord just takes that as His responsibility to fix. He says: “I [meaning the Lord] can bring him to understanding.” That relieves us from fixing one another.

We have a difficult enough challenge to fix all our our own nonsense, errors, ambitions, envy, and pride. That is the battleground. We do not need to export that battle into “fixing” our fellow man.

A community of peace is almost certainly going to be comprised of flawed people who deal with internal struggles. But viewing our neighbor charitably, and letting the Lord help them (just as He will help each of us) to overcome our weaknesses can change the conflict away from us.

Can we discuss difficult subjects without demanding that our neighbor “fix” his opinion to align with our own? That ought to be answered with a resounding “YES”. We are going to need to have difficult discussions about challenges that we will face establishing a city of peace under the Lord’s direction. We know erring in understanding is pervasive. It is easiest to see in other people. But what we see as their obvious failure is almost without fail something we can detect because we have that very same flaw. It is invisible to us personally. But move it onto our neighbor and it becomes glaring.

“Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies.” NC 1 Cor. 1:31. “Let all your things be done with charity.” Id., 73.

“Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, hearts of mercies, kindness, humility of mind, meekness, long-suffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. If any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do you; and above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” NC Colossians 1:13.

“[L]et him repent of all his folly, and clothe himself with charity, and cease to do evil, and lay aside all his hard speeches[.]” T&C 141:38.

“If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours — for charity covereth a multitude of sins.” Joseph Smith, DHC 4:445.

Charity, or love for one another, is the antidote for all the failings of the past. We needn’t fail. But we do need charity to succeed.