“And They Did Impart of Their Substance Every Man According to That Which He Had, to the Poor, Etc”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

Still another phase of the believers’ lives lay in the fact that they had, inspiring them to continual goodly deeds of loving-kindness, a particular quality we know of as charity, which charity was displayed by each of the faithful towards his fellow men. Although the Sacred Record does not identify this certain virtue by calling it charity, still we choose to use that appellation because it reveals to our senses the exalted pattern which the believers in our Lord had of one another. (See Complete concordance, of the word charity, both Bible and Book of Mormon at end of this Chapter.)

Charity does not only mean good will to the poor and the suffering, almsgiving and the like, but, also, it means the act of loving all men as brothers because they are sons of God. (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary) It means a divine love which is transplanted within our hearts; a Christian love for our fellows. The Revised Version of the Bible translates the word charity as meaning love. Charity is love. (II Nephi 26:30)

The members of the Church of Christ, at this time, displayed charity (love) in numerous ways to “the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted,” even to those who were not numbered among them, for as the Book of Mormon says, “Whether out of the Church or in the Church, having no respect as to those who stood in need.” (Verse 30)

Because they were just and equitable in their thoughts as well as righteous in their actions—they being charitable to those in want and just to the wayfarer—they grew in grace and in the knowledge of God’s glory. Their historian says of them, “They did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.” We imagine that, inspired by their lofty ideals, the Nephite members of the Church preferred to share, not only the gifts of the Spirit which they received, but also, with them as had not, their worldly goods. As we read of other Nephite Saints in other generations dividing their possessions with their brethren, we conclude that in serving God we put to the highest use the gifts we constantly receive from His bounteous hands; this by upholding the falling, by strengthening the weak, by clothing the naked, by feeding the hungry, and by ministering, as these Nephites did, to all those in need. (See COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF MORMON, Volume II, p. 44, vv. 16-17)

Also, the fact is noted that the members thereof established the affairs of the Church. The Church of Christ, itself, was already set up in Zarahemla, and had been for a long period of time. But, at this particular time, its members united their efforts in strengthening its several Branches and in building the glorious fabric whereby they could worship the coming Redeemer who was their promised Messiah, in truth and without molestation. In spite of great persecution, this was accomplished by them.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3