Charity: Kindness That Sees A Person's Holiness as a Child of God
Updated: May 28
By Debra Oaks Coe
In 1 Peter 4:8 JST, it states “…for charity preventeth a multitude of sins.”
This simple sentence expresses exactly why so many scriptures tell us that charity is the greatest of all qualities to have. The very act of charity prevents sin in both us and in others. It works on both a large and small scale. It is the element we need most to promote a more peaceful, kinder world. I love the metaphor Jesus often used of the Good Shepherd. Sheep have no natural way to defend themselves from predators which is why they have an instinct to stay together and follow each other. They feel very insecure when alone, so it is rare for a sheep to be separated and lost.
When they are lost or missing it is usually because they are either injured, sick, something scared them, or caused them to feel unsafe with the rest of the herd. This is why it is important for a Good Shepheard to leave the 99 and go find that one that is lost. They will not likely live through the night with predators in the area.
People are similar. We thrive best when we have positive connections with others. Current studies show that our young people, including college-age, thrive best and feel most positive about their life when they feel they belong and have at least 5 or more trusted adults in their lives. They need grandparents, aunts, uncles, ward members and neighbors as well as parents, building trust through small acts of love and charity over a long period of time. This requires spending individual time letting them know they are loved and seen, that they belong, and that they are cared about and supported as individuals. When we are kind and generous in how we treat and value others, it helps us feel more valued as well. Charity is kindness that looks past weaknesses to see the person and their holiness as a child of God. Charity brings out the best in people by providing comfort and refuge for those still searching for their strengths. Charity acknowledges that we all have human failings but also sees people’s potential and provides the love to nurture those around them.
When we speak of the poverty in our world, we tend to think of material items and needs. While those can be great, the most destructive poverty is the lack of love and the number of unwanted humanity. Mother Teresa referred to this as a spiritual poverty that can never be erased by money, medicine, and materials. This spiritual poverty can only be cured by our love and giving these people belonging. Joseph Smith put it best when he said:
“Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind. While the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.”