In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul discusses charity, what it is and what it is not. I had my students work in groups to come up with a definition of charity before we went to the text. This is a great subject to invite students to illustrate examples of what charity looks like. Paul states, ” Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
I appreciate the illustrations Paul gives us. He informs us that even if we give to the poor, if we do not have charity, we are missing the point. Charity is something that we become, not something we give. Moroni informs us that “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 7:47). I like to say that when we have charity, that we see things through heaven’s eyes.
The following story relates how a father showed charity to his family and his branch as he struggled with a situation that would have broke him had he not had heaven’s perspective. Most of us can relate with a time when we were offended in some way. I love the strength showed by this father as he lead his family in the path the Lord would have him follow:
A Great Trial
In the early 1900s, a young father and his family joined the Church in Hawaii. He was enthused about his new-found religion, and after two years of membership both he and his eldest son held the priesthood. They prospered and enjoyed the fellowship of the little branch. They anxiously looked forward to being sealed as a family for eternity in the temple soon to be completed in Laie.
Then, as so often happens, a test crossed their path. One of their daughters became ill with an unknown disease and was taken away to a strange hospital. People in Hawaii were understandably wary of unknown diseases, as such diseases had wrought so much havoc there.
The concerned family went to church the next Sunday, looking forward to the strength and understanding they would receive from their fellow members. It was a small branch. This young father and his son very often took the responsibility for blessing and passing the sacrament. This was one such Sunday. They reverently broke the bread while the congregation sang the sacrament hymn. When the hymn was finished, the young father began to kneel to offer the sacrament prayer. Suddenly the branch president, realizing who was at the sacred table, sprang to his feet. He pointed his finger and cried, “Stop. You can’t touch the sacrament. Your daughter has an unknown disease. Leave immediately while someone else fixes new sacrament bread. We can’t have you here. Go.”
How would you react? What would you do?
The stunned father slowly stood up. He searchingly looked at the branch president, then at the congregation. Then, sensing the depth of anxiety and embarrassment from all, he motioned to his family and they quietly filed out of the chapel.
Not a word was said as, with faces to the ground, they moved along the dusty trail to their small home. The young son noticed the firmness in his father’s clenched fists and the tenseness of his set jaw. When they entered their home they all sat in a circle, and the father said, “We will be silent until I am ready to speak.” All sorts of thoughts went through the mind of this young boy. He envisioned his father coming up with many novel ways of getting revenge. Would they kill the branch president’s pigs, or burn his house, or join another church? He could hardly wait to see what would happen.
Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes—not a sound. He glanced at his father. His eyes were closed, his mouth was set, his fingers clenched, but no sound. Twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes—still nothing. Then he noticed a slight relaxing of his father’s hands, a small tremor on his father’s lips, then a barely perceptible sob. He looked at his father—tears were trickling down his cheeks from closed eyes. Soon he noticed his mother was crying also, then one child, then another, and soon the whole family.
Finally, the father opened his eyes, cleared his throat, and announced, “I am now ready to speak. Listen carefully.” He slowly turned to his wife and said, meaningfully, “I love you.” Then turning to each child, he told them individually, “I love you. I love all of you and I want us to be together, forever, as a family. And the only way that can be is for all of us to be good members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and be sealed by his holy priesthood in the temple. This is not the branch president’s church. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. We will not let any man or any amount of hurt or embarrassment or pride keep us from being together forever. Next Sunday we will go back to church. We will stay by ourselves until our daughter’s sickness is known, but we will go back.”
This great man had proper eternal perspective.
The daughter’s health problem was resolved; the family did go to the temple when it was completed. The children did remain faithful and were likewise sealed to their own families in the temple as time went on. Today over 100 souls in this family are active members of the Church and call their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather blessed because he kept his eyes on eternity, because he used his priesthood to bless his family, and because he recorded his feelings. How the heart of this father turned to his children, and how his children’s hearts turned to him. 1
1. Elder John H. Groberg, Writing Your Personal and Family History, Ensign April, 1980.