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No half steps on the path to God: charity and repentance

Too often I get a question in the form of "yeah, but do I really have to repent? Can't I just get away with something less?" No, and please stop asking me the same question over and over again.

"You said Charity can endure all things and is the only thing that can. I am constantly posed with the question in my mind of the chicken or the egg scenario. What comes first? To endure all things we must have charity. But in order to be blessed with the gift of charity, we have to endure quite a bit. In order to to reach the state of being born again, you talk about our need to actually be perfectly reconciled to our conscience. That is no small task. How are we to do that without charity? Is charity bestowed in small portions at a time to help us overcome all things every step of the way?"

You can pray all you want for the gift of charity, but if you are expecting God to wave a magical wand and change you contrary to your actual desires, you will never receive it. God does not operate by magic. He operates by cause and effect. In this case, the law of justice will prevent you from receiving what you ask for but do not actually desire.

When you pray and ask for the gift of charity, what you are really asking for is for God to subject you to the next greatest affliction over and above what you have already suffered. You are asking him to do this so that you can see a little more of the limits of being carnally minded. If you continue this path, you will suffer more and greater things than God would have otherwise sent into your life, and doing so will eventually cause you to believe what he has been telling you clearly in the scriptures and in your experiences all along: nothing of this world is worth having; none of it is as good as it seems, and nothing lasts. To be spiritually minded is life eternal. To be carnally minded is death.

When you think you have the love of God, he will show you specific cases that prove you don't. These are opportunities for you to re-evaluate and recommit.Charity is not on a gradient. You either have the pure love of Christ or you don't. It's not called the partial love of Christ. It is called the pure love of Christ.  

When you think you have repented, he will show you specific cases that prove you didn't. These are opportunities for you to re-evaluate and recommit. No part of repentance occurs by degrees. You either repent or you don't. 

I'll give you a hint for both: as long as it is based on particulars, you are not there yet. You can't repent of "a thing" and you can't have the love of God only for certain people or in certain situations. If your trust in God or your love for him and for your fellowmen is limited in any way, you are not there yet. 

Repentance yields sinlessness when it achieves obedience beyond what is currently known. Similarly, charity is achieved when love becomes unconditional. This is why charity can endure all things, because that kind of love does not have limits. Therefore, anything that happens--even if it is a previously unconsidered situation--is covered. You will still do the right thing. Same with repentance.

There is no partial solution in the gospel. It is an all or nothing affair. Stop half stepping, stop looking for excuses, and realize that you either love God or you don't; you either obey him or you don't. Lying to yourself might work to sooth your conscience now, but it will be woefully ineffective to shield you from the eternal torment you are destined for if you will not come to him while your life lasts.