Lesson 38: The Pure Love of Christ

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, (1995), 155–59


Each young man will desire to possess the gift of charity, the pure love of Christ, and apply it in his daily life.


  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study Matthew 22:35–39, John 13:34–35, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4:20–21, and Moroni 7:47–48.

  2. 2.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Copies of the scriptures (each young man should bring his own).

    2. b.

      Picture 3, Jesus the Christ (62572; Gospel Art Picture Kit 240), and picture 14, Three Young Men Rescue the Martin Handcart Company (62606; Gospel Art Picture Kit 415).

    3. c.

      A piece of paper and a pencil for each young man.

    4. d.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

  3. 3.

    Prepare a copy of the handout “Charity Profile,” which is located at the end of the lesson, for each young man.

Suggested Lesson Development


Writing activity

Divide the quorum in half. Have the first group count off using numbers and the second count off using letters. Pair off the two groups as follows: 1 with a, 2 with b, 3 with c, and so on. Give each young man a pencil and a piece of paper, and have him write down at least one thing he admires and respects about his partner. Have the young men share their responses with the quorum.

Point out that looking for the good and admirable qualities in other people will help us learn to love as Christ does.

Charity Is Christlike Love

Scriptures and discussion

Ask a young man to read aloud Matthew 22:35–39 while the other young men follow along in their own scriptures.

  • What are the two greatest commandments?

Point out that these two commandments both tell us to love. Love is the central theme of the gospel.

  • Who are we commanded to love?

Have the young men read and mark 1 John 4:20–21.

  • What does it mean to love your brother?

  • Why is it impossible to love God and hate your brother at the same time? (To love God is also to love the things God loves most, and God loves his children most.)


Explain that love can be many things to many people, but it may be classified into three basic types.

The first type is expressed in the terms “I will love you if …” People give this kind of love if others meet certain requirements. It is conditional and always has strings attached.

  • What are some examples of this type of love? (I will love you if you are popular, if you have a car, if you attend church, if you are nice to me, if you do your chores, or if you do what I say.)

The second type of love uses the word because and emphasizes selfish or worldly aspects. It, too, is conditional love. People love others only because of their attractive qualities or characteristics.

  • What are some examples of this kind of love? (I love you because you have pretty eyes, because you try to make me happy, because you help me with my homework, because you loan me money when I need it, because you do things for me, or because you put me first.)

  • What is wrong with these two kinds of love? (They are not true love. They are conditional love based on selfishness.)

Explain that the third type of love is unselfish and unconditional. We do not have to earn or deserve this kind of love by acting a certain way or having certain qualities. This kind of love can use the phrase “even though.”

  • What are some examples of this kind of love? (I love you even though I disagree with what you do, even though you have weaknesses and problems, even though you made a mistake, or even though you don’t always do exactly what I want.)

Point out that this is the kind of love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ give each of us. They love and accept us no matter what we do or who we are. This kind of love is called charity.

Scripture and chalkboard discussion

To help the young men understand what it means to have charity, have them read 1 Corinthians 13. Suggest that they mark the attributes of a charitable person.

After they have read and marked the scriptures, have the young men tell you the attributes they have marked. As they state the biblical term, discuss the term and help the young men give a modern synonym for it. Write the terms and their synonyms on the chalkboard. Possible terms and synonyms include—

  1. 1.

    “Suffereth long and is kind” (patient).

  2. 2.

    “Envieth not” (satisfied).

  3. 3.

    “Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (humble).

  4. 4.

    “Doth not behave itself unseemly” (courteous).

  5. 5.

    “Seeketh not her own” (unselfish).

  6. 6.

    “Is not easily provoked” (good-tempered).

  7. 7.

    “Thinketh no evil” (pure).

  8. 8.

    “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (honest).

We Should Love One Another As Christ Loves Us

Picture, scripture, and discussion

Show picture 3, Jesus the Christ. Explain that Moroni referred to charity as “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). Christ exhibited all of these attributes, and he loved us unconditionally. Emphasize that in order to come unto Christ, we must learn to love as he loves.

Have the young men read and mark John 13:34–35.

Ask the young men to describe incidents they remember from the scriptures that illustrate how Christ showed the qualities of a charitable person.

After the young men have responded, point out that the incidents described are just a few examples of how Christ demonstrated charity. Everything he did showed his love for people. To be like him, we must also develop and show love for others.


Explain that true charity is a gift of the Spirit. It is not something we can gain only by our own efforts. Help the young men understand that charity is a spiritual gift we should all seek to develop.

Have a young man read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“Above all the attributes of godliness and perfection, charity is the one most devoutly to be desired. Charity is more than love, far more; it is everlasting love, perfect love, the pure love of Christ which endureth forever. It is love so centered in righteousness that the possessor has no aim or desire except for the eternal welfare of his own soul and for the souls of those around him” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], p. 121).

  • Why is charity such an important spiritual gift to develop?

Scripture and discussion

Have the young men read Moroni 7:47–48.

  • What does this verse tell us about how we can develop the spiritual gift of charity?

We Can Show Charity through Service

Story and picture

Explain that we can show love for others by serving them. Show picture 14, Three Young Men Rescue the Martin Handcart Company, and tell the following story about three young men who showed true charity:

When the early Mormon pioneers came west to Salt Lake City, many of them traveled in handcart companies. Not having enough money to afford wagons, they pulled by hand what little they could of their worldly possessions in two-wheeled carts. One such company was the Martin Company.

The Martin Company became stranded in the middle of a Wyoming blizzard. The people faced certain death in the subzero temperature from exposure and lack of food. Brigham Young sent a relief party to rescue them. On the way back, the Martin Company and its relief party reached a river filled with floating ice.

“To cross would require more courage and fortitude, it seemed, than human nature could muster. Women shrank back and men wept. Some pushed through, but others were unequal to the ordeal.

“Three eighteen-year-old boys belonging to the relief party came to the rescue, and to the astonishment of all who saw, carried nearly every member of that ill-fated handcart company across the snow-bound stream. The strain was so terrible, and the exposure so great, that in later years all the boys died from the effects of it. When President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept like a child, and later declared publicly, ‘That act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end’” (LeRoy R. and Ann W. Hafen, Handcarts to Zion [Glendale, Cal.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1960], pp. 132–33).


Point out that acts of service do not need to be extraordinary or heroic to demonstrate true charity.

  • What are some ways you can show love for the people around you?


Activity and challenge

Pass out the copies of the charity profile, and have each young man evaluate himself in the areas listed. Challenge each young man to pick an area to pray about and to concentrate on throughout the week.

Have the young men read Moroni 7:48 again and discuss how the scripture applies to this challenge.


Explain that charity, the pure love of Christ, is the highest principle of the gospel. Becoming charitable will enable us to become as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are. Testify of Heavenly Father’s and Jesus’ love for each of us.

Optional activities and challenges

You may wish to challenge the young men to choose one of the following activities:

  1. 1.

    Choose a brother or sister who needs extra love and attention, and do something with him or her. Read a story, go on an outing together, or simply talk with each other.

  2. 2.

    Choose a young man at church or school who needs a friend, and get to know him better.

  3. 3.

    Become involved in charitable service such as donating time to local charitable organizations, doing volunteer work for people who have disabilities, reading for the blind, or serving in hospitals and clinics.

  4. 4.

    Watch for someone who achieves, gives service, or makes others happy. Send him or her a note of appreciation or congratulations.