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Just dropping by ... Check your heart

Yevet Tenney Published on 16 October 2015

I can hardly watch the news nowadays. I am constantly horrified by the heartless acts being perpetrated on other human beings.

Riots and pillage in American cities, murders of police officers, Planned Parenthood videos displaying the murder of innocents, marching forth of ISIS, rape and massacre of innocent women and children; these and other horrors parade daily across the screen in nearly every household.

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Their exploits are announced by the iceberg voices of the commentators. We watch with stunned amazement or we content ourselves that we turned off the news or closed our eyes at the most gruesome parts. Some don’t even do that.

They watch and even seek out the videos on YouTube to watch again. What has happened to our hearts? I’m afraid many of us have heart trouble of the worst kind. We have a hardening of the heart. We see, but we don’t feel anymore.

Have we seen too many movies depicting violence to feel for the real plight of human beings? Are we numb to the real cries because we have heard too many well-acted Hollywood cries?

Is the daily drama of the news and commentary so hyped with human suffering and sensational depictions, designed to shock and appall, that we don’t even recognize the feelings of horror and dismay anymore? Are we past shedding tears for those in distress? Have we lost our human connection?

I remember hearing an account of a young man who was traveling in a country in South America. He was hiking with some natives. They were enjoying the hike when a message came that something had happened to a family member of this young man.

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As he shared the message with his fellow hikers, they all sat down and wept with him. They felt his pain and sorrow, and they shared it unabashedly. I think that is the way Americans used to be.

I remember when I first heard about a murder as a child. I pined over it for weeks. Every time I thought about it, I was horrified. I even had nightmares.

I wonder if we desensitize our children with the shows we watch. When something bad happens, we tell them, “Don’t worry, it is not real.” I wonder if that translates to them that nothing on the television is real. If it is in that square box with moving pictures, it’s not real. It can’t hurt us.

There are 1,223 mentions of the “heart” in the Bible. God must have thought it was important. The heart is synonymous with the soul. It is the place where our compassion dwells.

We are counseled in Proverbs, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” And Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also.” We are further instructed that our blessings come from giving from the heart.

Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

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Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

—Matthew 6:1-4

I don’t know how we change the trend of heartlessness in society, but we can change our own hearts. God has given us a picture of what we should be – a model to shoot for, if you will. It is called charity. A closer look at I Corinthians chapter 13 will give us some insight.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

People can speak beautiful words that sound like angels’ voices, but if there is no feeling of love and compassion behind them, they are empty as an off-key trumpet or a clanging wind chime.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

We can perform miracles and have great knowledge, but we are nothing if we do not have soft, tender hearts.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

We can give everything we own – even our lives – but it is meaningless unless we have the honest feeling of love behind the gift. We must give for no other reason than compassion and concern for the person in need.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

Charity is an outward expression of character that is willing to suffer and yet respond in kindness. Charity is grateful for every blessing and does not desire the possessions or successes of another. Charity rejoices in the accomplishments of others without being puffed up with pride for her own achievements.

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.

Charity is the picture of modesty in word and deed. She doesn’t seek to aggrandize herself by boasting or drawing attention to her attributes.

Charity doesn’t get angry or revile against those who hurt her. She allows her mind to dwell on goodness and virtue, and seeks for integrity and purity. Her thoughts and actions continually reflect her innermost desires for righteousness.

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.

She keeps wickedness far from her as she seeks for truth. She abhors wickedness of any kind and will flee from it. She will do all she can to curtail the wickedness around her. She loves the truth and will never weave a lie.

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity is willing to carry burdens and overcome hard things. She is filled with hope and will endure the sorrows and pains of this world – and will generously help others to do the same.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Charity will overcome all things. Everything will end, but charity will last forever. The antidote for a hard heart is charity. It is wonderful to read beautiful poetic words and wish we could be the embodiment of charity, but how do we get there?

Charity is a vision that begins in the mind. You must see yourself being filled with charity before you can achieve it. That vision begins with desire. You must want to be charitable for the right reason.

It is easy to want to be charitable because it will make you look better in the eyes of your friends and neighbors, but that is the antithesis of charity. We must want it because it is the right thing to do.

I have always been taught that charity is the “pure love of Christ.” That can mean we love Him with all our hearts, or it can mean He loves us with a love that is infinite and unfailing. Charity begins with the love of the Savior.

We must learn to love Him as He loves us. As we do that, all of the commandments and the teachings of the Savior fall into place. We love God and our fellow man.

We are born anew and have no desire to do evil but to serve and make life better for those around us. The evils of the world touch our hearts as they would touch the Savior’s heart.

We can’t develop charity on our own. We must pray mightily for His love to fill our souls. Then we must act on our charitable feelings. Christ will open the way for us to prove that we are soft-hearted men and women of charity.  PD

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