“Charity Vaunteth Not Itself, Is Not Puffed Up”


“Charity Vaunteth Not Itself, Is Not Puffed Up”

Objective: To seek for righteousness without being self-righteous.

To vaunt is to proudly call attention to our possessions, our accomplishments, our associations, or our righteousness. To illustrate this fault, the Savior told the parable of the Pharisee and the publican:

“The Pharisee stood [in the temple] and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

“I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:10–13.)

Jesus pointed out that it was not the Pharisee who was justified, but the publican, adding that “Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14.)

The Pharisee made two serious mistakes: he boasted about himself, and he put himself in God’s place as the judge of his righteousness. Only God can pronounce us righteous.

One of the most serious forms of “vaunting” is the sin of pride. “Pride is a ‘my will’ rather than ‘thy will’ approach to life,” says President Ezra Taft Benson. “The opposite of pride is humbleness, meekness, submissiveness (see Alma 13:28), or teachableness. … With pride, there are many curses. With humility, there come many blessings.” (Ensign, May 1986, pp. 6–7.)

We may vaunt ourselves in other ways. If we interrupt someone or whisper during a meeting, class, or performance, we may convey disrespect for what others are saying or doing. If we are late for an appointment, we may show that we consider our time or other activities more important.

We also vaunt ourselves if we take credit for what we haven’t earned. Some people blame God when things go badly in their lives and take the credit when things go well, overlooking the fact that their talents, skills, and possessions are gifts from the Lord.

The scriptures say that “in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.” (D&C 59:21.) True humility comes when we acknowledge our dependence on him in every act—indeed, in every breath.

Such humility encourages us to follow the Savior’s example of love and service to others. President Spencer W. Kimball exemplified this philosophy. Just after he was sustained as President of the Church in April 1974, he attended a family dinner. Noticing a security guard in a parked car in front of the house, President Kimball filled a plate and took it out to the officer. (See Ensign, Mar. 1975, p. 6.) Despite his busy schedule, President Kimball did not consider himself too important to serve others; on the contrary, he saw his new position as an opportunity to serve.

As we learn to recognize the Lord’s love for us and our dependence on him, to feel gratitude for the blessings he gives us, and to focus on serving others, we will learn charity, which, the Apostle Paul said, “vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Cor. 13:4; see also Moro. 7:45.) We will then want to do as Ammon did, when he said, “I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.” (Alma 26:12.)

With that strength, we can do much to help accomplish the mission of the Church—to bring souls to Christ—through proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead.

Suggestions for Visiting Teachers

  1. 1.

    Discuss ways we can learn to “confess [the Lord’s] hand in all things.”

  2. 2.

    Share ideas with the sister you visit about how you or she has learned to focus on others.

(See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 23–26, 48–51, 58, 98–101, 106–8, 196–97, 242–44 for related materials.)

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker