As Relief Society sisters, we have celebrated this sesquicentennial year of 1992 by serving others. Acts of unselfish giving and warm affection have taken place all over the world. This charity is a fitting culmination of Relief Society’s first 150 years.
President Elaine L. Jack defines charity as a personal attitude: “Instead of thinking of charity as a list of guilt-imposing musts, think of it as the quality correctly defined in the scriptures as the pure love of Christ—something personally validating and glorious, something peaceful and joyful too.”
A pair of sister missionaries trudged the streets of a city in northern Spain. On that gray, rainy day, no one showed an interest in their message. As the two neared the city park, Sister Silvia Golithon noticed that most of the people in front of them were women. She felt the whisperings of the Spirit tell her, “These are your sisters.” She later wrote of the event, “A feeling of light entered my mind.” She recorded that the Spirit helped her more clearly understand the worldwide sisterhood found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As President Ezra Taft Benson has said, “The pure love of Christ seeks only the eternal growth and joy of others” (General Conference, October 1986). Expressing the love of Christ to others in diverse ways becomes a glorious mission for us all.
Serving others helps us respect and love them. Loving others brings us closer to the Lord.
How does our attitude toward others influence the way we serve?
When a young mother in South Africa recently became ill with cancer, the sisters in the ward rallied around her family, bringing meals almost every day. They cared for her children. And as the young mother became more ill and depressed, her Relief Society sisters took turns staying with her in her home until evening, when her husband returned from work. When she had to go to the hospital, her Relief Society sisters continued to remain at her side. They were with her and her family when she died.
Says one woman who joined in this charitable work, “She left behind a sisterhood greatly saddened, yet unified and strengthened by their opportunity of service and love.”
What examples of charity in action have you observed in your own ward or branch?
The first members of the Relief Society in Nauvoo in 1842 organized “committees of necessity” to seek those in need and share what they had. President Joseph Smith predicted, “This is the beginning of better days to the poor and needy, who shall be made to rejoice and pour forth blessings on your heads” (History of the Church, 4:607). It was indeed the beginning of better days, for their time and for ours, too. Historically, Relief Society women have fed the hungry from their wheat storage, saved lives through their nursing and hospital care, and sent emergency supplies to disaster areas. Now, in each area of the world, Relief Society sisters, in small ways and large, offer loving help to their neighbors. We invite all sisters to make the attitude and actions of charity a continuing part of our lives.
How can you make charity a continual way of feeling and acting?