Sara Talbert lives in Mesa, AZ and is currently the Relief Society President in her ward. She has been married for 17 years and has 3 boys who are 12, 8, and the surprise 14-month-old. Her parents converted in her teen years, so Sara and her two brothers grew up in the Church. She grew up in the Northern California town of Chico and a little town called Paradise. She has a master’s in leadership and a bachelor’s in communication with a focus in cultures. She currently works from home for a company that provides retirement help for federal employees. Sara loves all things crafty and doing whatever she can to get to the beach. She also helps support her family’s obsession with the world of Disney and Star Wars. She has been the Relief Society President since the beginning of COVID and has had a lot of experience in doing things differently.
The Relief Society motto is ‘Charity Never Faileth’.
As you think of this motto and the Relief Society, what comes to mind? Do you see sisters bringing meals to others, making blankets, visiting the needy, or doing ministering? Do you think about service projects like all the masks sewn by many sisters at the beginning of the COVID pandemic or all the packages and aid being sent to Ukraine? What about the moms, sisters, aunts that serve in your home and the community?
I want you to think for a second on what comes to your mind when you hear the Relief Society motto: ‘Charity Never Faileth’.
Why do you think this is the motto? I am sure there could have been other mottos. Some that I thought of could have been, ‘Women are Awesome!’, ‘Women Who Serve’, ‘Love to All’, or maybe ‘Relief Society, We Lift Others’. Those may not be all that great, but it brings up the question, why is the motto ‘Charity Never Faileth’?
Let’s talk about the Relief Society, one of my favorite topics right now since I am the Relief Society president of my ward. First, it was organized because women saw a need to help and lift others. Joseph Smith saw what these women were doing, knew it was no coincidence and along with those sisters created the Relief Society with their motto – ‘Charity Never Faileth’.
Now their purpose has shifted and changed in littles ways over the years, but ultimately the Relief Society, and may I add the elders quorum’s purpose, is to participate in the work of salvation and exaltation by doing four things.
- Living the gospel of Jesus Christ
- Caring for those in need
- Inviting all to receive the gospel
- Uniting families for eternity
So, in short – ‘Live, Care, Invite, Unite’. What a great motto… why isn’t this the motto of the Relief Society then?
Scripture Insights on Charity
Let’s look at some scriptures to better understand why charity is a key component of our efforts in the Relief Society and elders quorum.
1 – Charity Helps Prevent Sin – The JST of 1 Peter 4:8 reads “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity preventeth a multitude of sins.” Thus, having charity will prevent sinning. So in other words, having charity allows you to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is one of the purposes of the Relief Society and elders quorum. Interesting.
2 – Caring for Others – In Ether 12: 33-34 we read “And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of they life for the world, that thou mightiest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men. And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore except men shall have charity they cannot inherit the place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy father.”
In this scripture we learn that Christ laid down His life for us so he could prepare us a way back to our Heavenly Father and called this charity. So, Christ is caring for us- just like the second purpose of the Relief Society and elders quorum, which is to care for others.
3 – Inviting all to Receive the Gospel – The next scripture is D&C 4: 3-6. “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work: For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul. And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.”
Here we learn that the field is white and ready to harvest – missionary work and through remembering things like faith, virtue, godliness, and charity, we can bring salvation to many souls. Just like the third purpose of the Relief Society and elders quorum – Inviting all to receive the gospel.
4 – Uniting Families for Eternity – Next is Moroni 7:47, “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with them.”
The last purpose of the Relief Society and elders quorum is uniting families for eternity. We need to have had possessed charity in our last day to be well with God, to be united with Him.
Live The Gospel of Jesus Christ
To bring this all together – the purpose of Relief Society and the elders quorum is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, to care for others, invite all to receive the gospel and to unite families for eternity… or in other words to have charity. And if we have charity in our lives, it will not fail us.
Instead of thinking about Relief Society and the motto ‘Charity Never Faileth’ as just service, visiting, or ministering, which is part of it, we need to broaden our minds and think about our purpose to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, care for others, invite others to learn, and to unite families for eternity- which is charity.
Charity is About Christ and His Mission
In researching charity, I came across an old conference talk that helps explain charity a little more. It’s by Elder C. Max Caldwell, of the seventy, back in 1992 called ‘Love of Christ’. Elder Caldwell brings up the question, what is charity? The word charity in the scriptures, as he states, doesn’t seem to be consistent with what we commonly use it for. Just like when we think of the Relief Society as first a group of women who do service. We forget the other definitions of what charity is and why the motto ‘Charity Never Faileth’ defines the Relief Society.
If we look at the scripture 1 Corinthians 13:15, as Elder Caldwell suggests, it states:
“Faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
If we think of charity as just a word for service, then how is that greater than faith and hope? Elder Caldwell brings up another scripture, Mormon 7:47 that helps us realize what charity really is. Moroni states that:
“charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.”
So, what is the love of Christ? And why are we commanded that all men should have charity?
Love For Christ
Elder Caldwell explains that there are three dimensions of the love of Christ.
- Love for Christ
- Love from Christ
- Love like Christ
The love for Christ means that we proclaim our love for Christ in how we behave, act, and through our attitudes. For example, are we grateful and turn to Christ when things are good and bad? I recently lost my dad due to a heart attack; he was just 63 and was looking forward to retiring and moving to be close to his grandkids and I. This was a tough loss, but despite how hard it was, I still loved Christ and felt him helping me along the way. While by brother, who has left the church took it as a sign that there is no Christ, because “how could he do this to us?”
Being grateful and having a love for Christ all the time can be difficult when we are going through hard things, but this is what it’s meant to have charity at all times, having the love for Christ even when things are hard.
Love From Christ
Next, the love from Christ. Elder Caldwell explains that the greatest love from Christ we ever received was the atonement. His sacrifice and our Heavenly Father’s willingness to sacrifice His son has shown us that greatest charity- His pure love.
Elder Caldwell states,
“This gift of charity is to be received. The Savior’s act of redemption for our sins is of no effect without our willingness to comply with the conditions of his atonement.”
Moroni declared “except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy father.”
Without accepting the atonement, Christ’s charity, by repenting daily we cannot inherit our kingdoms in heaven. If we see repentance as a gift, verses a punishment (which it’s not) then we are receiving that pure love from Christ…Charity.
Love Like Christ
Last is to love like Christ.
To love like Christ isn’t always easy, but I have seen it and felt it. In the callings I have had, I have felt a little portion of what it’s like to love like Christ.
When I was a primary and Sunday school teacher, I loved those kids. I thought about them, I cared about them, I wanted them to be happy and wanted to help them. Because of that relationship, I cared more about them than other kids in other classes. When I was released from those callings, I still loved those kids, but the thoughts and continuous want to help them faded. I was given a gift while in those callings to have charity for those kids, a portion of God’s pure love. And never have I felt more of this pure love, this charity, than in my calling now as Relief Society President.
When the hands were placed on my head and I was set apart in this calling, I immediately felt this overwhelming love for all the sisters in my ward. It is hard to explain it, but from that moment the sisters in my ward became part of me. I care for them, feel their pains, their sorrows, and their happiness’s. I get to feel just a little of what God feels for them.
When I hear our prophet talk about his love for the saints, I can partly understand how he can truly love us all, despite not knowing all of us. I can say with all my heart that I know the Savior and our Heavenly Father love each of us and knows us because I can feel a small portion of that in my calling.
Charity – An Internal Condition
I do believe everyone should have the opportunity to have a calling like mine. It really brings you closer to Christ, not just because you are doing the work, but because you get to feel His love for others. Elder Caldwell states,
“Charity is not just a precept or a principle, nor is it just a word to describe actions or attitudes. Rather, it is an internal condition that must be developed and experienced in order to be understood. We are processors of charity when it is part of our nature. People who have charity have a love for the Savior, have received of His love, and love others as he does.”
Just as the Relief Society motto states, “Charity Never Faileth,” If we live charity, in that we love Christ, receive His atonement, and love others, we cannot fail. This is what God has told us and why it is His greatest among faith and hope.
So, do we trust God, that if we possess charity that we cannot fail?
Ask yourself, how can I show charity to myself and others more, remembering this isn’t just service. It’s to live the gospel, care for others, invite others to the gospel, to unite families for eternity. As we internalize charity, we have a love for Christ, we accept love from Christ, and we love like Christ.
Charity is God’s pure love, and who wouldn’t want that internal condition in their life?