Charity is one of the key principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Alongside the first great commandment to love God, Christ said the second was to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).
In a general way, we all understand the need to have charity and what it means to love others. However, charity works on an individual level and that isn’t always easy. By taking a closer look at the scriptures, we can begin to take on this powerful attribute of the Savior. This particular account of a man seeking to be healed and those who helped him is particularly helpful.
Breaking Through a Roof
As word of Christ’s miracles spread, many flocked to see him. When he came to Capernaum, a large crowd came to the house he was staying at. There were so many people they couldn’t all fit and they spilled outside and crowded the entrance.
For four men bringing a man, perhaps a friend, brother, or son, to be healed by Christ, this crowd posed quite a problem. Still, they wouldn’t let anything deter them. Both the gospels of Mark and Luke describe what they did next.
And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. (Mark 2:2-4)
And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. (Luke 5:17-19)
From this account, we are left with an interesting question: in our own lives, how does breaking through metaphorical roofs relate to charity?
Charity Often Requires Boldness
President Henry B. Eyring once told priesthood holders they were “under covenant to go to a spiritually wounded child of God. You are responsible to be brave enough and bold enough not to turn away.” This covenant applies to all men and women of the Church and anyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ.
Developing charity was never meant to be easy. In many ways, charity goes against the natural man. Our instincts often tell us to avoid conflict and focus on self-preservation. Charity invites us to be vulnerable, to face awkward moments, to stay around when things get hard. Sacrifice is often involved. As President Eyring said, charity requires both bravery and boldness.
There may be a roof that needs to be broken down, a barrier that needs to be passed, in order to serve and love someone in our lives. Doing so may make us uncomfortable or require us to stretch and exert ourselves. Loving someone may not even turn out the way we would like it.
Charity Is a Group Effort
There were four men who needed to carry their friend to Christ. They could not have done it alone. When faced with someone in great need, we should not try to handle it by ourselves. God has developed an amazing support system through his Church. We should utilize all the resources available to us, not only for practical reasons but to give as many people as possible the chance to serve. There are community members, bishops, other ward leaders, and family and friends.
Gathering people together often requires risk and vulnerability. It is hard to open up and admit you need help in caring for someone else, or even yourself.
Charity Can Lead to Miracles
In both accounts, when Christ heals the man with palsy, the scriptures say the Savior noted their faith. It was the faith of all five men that produced the miracle. Sometimes, it may seem our charity doesn’t make much of an impact. But it can and it does! Elder Dallin H. Oaks once said, “Love is the most powerful force in the world.” By developing charity for both ourselves and others, we are enabling miracles to happen. They may not be obvious. They may not come in the way we expect or when we would like them to.
Becoming like Christ isn’t easy. Taking on the mantle of charity is a lifelong process. Finding inspiration in the scriptures can help us as we go.