Conversion Is Key to Charity, Renlunds Share during BYU Women’s Conference

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 1 May 2016

Sister Ruth L. Renlund speaks with her husband, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the final session of the BYU Women's Conference held in the Marriott Center in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016.  Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Charity is more than good deeds; real charity becomes part of a person and is a way of life.
  • Improved Sabbath day observance is vital to increasing our conversion.

“As you take time each week to prepare conscientiously for and worthily partake of the sacrament, you will see and feel the fruits of charity developing in yourself, in your very character, in your very being.” —Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles                      Busath.com

“Conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement is the key to developing charity, the pure love of Christ,” Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during the closing session of BYU Women’s Conference on April 29.

“The development of charity then leads to the development of other Christlike attributes,” he said.

Speaking to a near-capacity crowd in the Marriott Center, Elder Renlund and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, discussed ways people can become “one in charity” with others and with the Lord.

Watch the full address.

Drawing from the words of the Apostle Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians when he encouraged unity among the Saints, Elder and Sister Renlund spoke of a unifying and “more excellent way.”

“I think ‘a more excellent way’ was charity,” Sister Renlund said. “Paul says that rather than seeking specific spiritual gifts, even though that would be helpful, ‘a more excellent way’ was to develop a very specific characteristic or quality that is referred to as charity.”

The word charity derives from the Greek word agape, Sister Renlund explained. “In the Greek, agape means open, or a gape, tolerance, fairness, and kindness. The King James Version of the Bible translates agape as charity. In other versions of the Bible it is translated as love.”

“‘A more excellent way’ is to develop the characteristic or quality of agape and many wonderful consequences result,” Elder Renlund said. “These consequences define agape itself.”

Looking to the list of defining characteristics of agape found in 1 Corinthians 13, the couple said an important part of agape, or the pure love of Christ, is people working together in the Lord’s way.

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, speak during the final session of the BYU Women's Conference held in the Marriott Center in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

“When we think about this phrase as an exhortation, we, as individuals, are strongly encouraged to voluntarily join together to help those in need,” Sister Renlund said. “Our desire is to be charitable, but we want to do so in a unified effort. This is a lofty goal. It builds on the concept of synergy, that many can do more than the sum of individuals.”

Referencing the new Relief Society initiative, “I Was a Stranger,” announced in the last general conference, the couple spoke of the power that comes as one person joins with others to be “one in Charity.”

That synergy occurs when people work together and qualify for heaven’s help, said Elder Renlund. Unity—with others as well as with the Savior—is central to doing the Lord’s work.

“The importance of being unified or ‘one’ to accomplish the mission of the Church is an important interpretation of this year’s theme,” Sister Renlund said. “In other words, we must be unified, or one, in order to be charitable in the Lord’s way.”

Using the example of a slinky toy, Sister Renlund compared the motion of the toy to a person acting on the natural impulses that flow from having the pure love of Christ. As a person acts, unity increases, and as unity increases, the pure love of Christ continues to increase. Charity and unity increase together.

Sister Ruth L. Renlund speaks with her husband, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the final session of the BYU Women's Conference held in the Marriott Center in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

“As we unify with others in a community of Saints, we can achieve remarkable things,” Elder Renlund said.

A precursor to charity is “to be absolutely converted to Jesus Christ, to remember God’s greatness, to humble ourselves, to pray to God daily, and to stand steadfastly in faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement,” Elder Renlund said. “If we do this, then all those fruits of consequences flow naturally. So if we are truly converted and always remember God’s greatness, then we will always rejoice, be filled with the love of God, always retain a remission of our sins, [and] live peaceably.”

Charity is a result of conversion, the couple taught.

“At the center of desirable and Christlike attributes is the pure love of Christ,” Sister Renlund said. “Conversion to Jesus Christ and His Atonement underlies our ability to develop agape, the pure love of Christ. So of all the models we have discussed, this last one, with conversion to Jesus Christ as the foundation for the pure love of Christ, is the most complete.”

Charity is much more than visiting the sick or taking dinner to someone in need; real charity becomes part of a person, it is a way of life.

Elder Dale G. Renlund waves to the audience and receives waves back after speaking at the Marriott Center during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

“The pure love of Christ, or charity, is selfless and self-serving, emanates from a pure heart and a good conscience,” Elder Renlund said. “Charity is more than an act or action. Charity is an attitude, a state of heart and mind that accompanies one’s actions. It is to be an integral part of one’s nature. In fact, all things are to be done in charity. Charity casts out all fears and it is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven.”

Sister Renlund added: “Conversion to Jesus Christ is the real key to developing charity. Charity stems from true conversion to Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The underlying invitation that comes from all we have discussed today is the same invitation our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ have been issuing from the beginning of time. Simply, ‘Come unto Christ.’”

Recognizing the recent emphasis the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have placed on increasing faith in Heavenly Father and the Atonement of Jesus Christ through improving Sabbath day observance at home and at church, Elder Renlund said improved Sabbath day observance is vital to “increasing our own conversion.”

“I promise you that as you make the Sabbath day a priority in your own life, your ability to feel agape, charity, this pure love of Christ will increase,” Elder Renlund said. “As you take time each week to prepare conscientiously for and worthily partake of the sacrament, you will see and feel the fruits of charity developing in yourself, in your very character, in your very being. You will become more unified with your husband, your children, your family—all of your loved ones, and with those you are called to serve. You will become ‘one in charity.’”

Sharon Whitmore, left, talks with Tiffani Lehmitz during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

People gather at booths in the Wilkinson Student Center during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Sister Jean B. Bingham, left, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency; Sister Joy D. Jones, President; and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Second Counselor, greet Elder Dale G. and Sister Ruth L. Renlund at the end of BYU Women's Conference in Provo, on Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Women wait in line at the Harris Fine Arts Center during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Women walk between classes during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Women walk between classes during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.