"And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works." (Alma 7: 24)
At family home evening last night (Monday night Nicole and I put off Family Home Evening to see a new play by a good friend of mine), Kira chose to read this scripture for the lesson. Kira is relatively new to the world of reading, and scripture print is pretty tight and small, so it took a while to make it through the verse. By the time she finished, I was ready for a song and prayer, but luckily Nicole had the patient to take time first to talk about what the scripture means.
What is faith? she asked Kira.
Kira, who is still too young to have worried about any of faith's opposites in her relationship with God, had no idea. We said: faith is talking to Heavenly Father even though you can't see him. She said: "I'm a faith girl."
What is hope? my wife asked Kira.
Kira said she didn't know that, either, until Nicole reminded her that she talks about hope all the time. Hope is like a wish said Kira. It's a wish for a good thing.
What is charity? said Nicole to Kira.
That one, of course, stumped Kira, since the answer is for her is probably that charity is a scriptures-only word. So I said: charity is a fancy word for love. And Kira said "I love everybody in the whole entire world." So I said: yes. That's charity. You love your parents, and that's one kind of love. Your parents love each other, and that's a different kind. When you love everyone in the world, that's charity.
And what are good works? asked Nicole.
For Kira, good works are being nice to her teacher and helping throw away trash. When I was a teenager, they were staying away from alcohol, drugs, and sex. For Shiprah and Puah, good works were disobeying a direct order from a king who thought he was a god and then lying about it. For Thomas S. Monson, they are remembering the widows and teaching people how to see their own lives in terms of service. For Nicole, perhaps, they include using her talents to find the wise and good in texts. And so on, into a thousand and one possibilities every night, so that my old stake president, Samuel Kiehl, used to say: "There are so many good things to do you can safely just cross bad off your list."
This is, I think, part of the meaning of the word "abound."