I am in a constant state of flux. I continue to learn through my own personal experiences and through others’ experiences. A week ago I had the opportunity to teach Mosiah 4 in my Gospel Doctrine class. That is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon for many reasons. I believe you have all had that lesson in your wards by now but I want to share some insights that I received through teaching the class.
Lest you think I am preaching, I am not meaning to, but there is a point to my thoughts and I hope you will read this all the way through and I hope your hearts will open up to what I am trying to say. Few of you ever comment on any of my blog postings so I don’t know if you read them or not but this one is important. So please read it and think about it.
King Benjamin sets up chapter four in a very particular way. In chapter three he talks about the natural man being an enemy to God which helps set the background as to what we should do in order to get past that natural man. He next discusses man’s nothingness. Of course, he doesn’t mean to say we are nothing and nobody – he uses that terminology only to explain how dependent we are on God, just as a newborn is dependent on their parents to give them life. We are, in fact, God’s very treasures. His life is all about US, not Him. If we skip to verse 16 in chapter 4, this is where the heart of my message lies.
I was raised in a family that had this motto: “If the dog bites you the first time, it’s the dog’s fault. If it bites you the second time, it’s your fault.” The statement “Well, he made his bed so he better lie in it” was often heard and fully believed by both my parents and I’ve heard my siblings say much the same thing. It was an attitude. It was a belief and it is completely contrary to God’s wishes for us. Unfortunately, those statements seem to automatically pop into my “natural” mind whenever I make some kind of judgment about something or someone without knowing the facts first. We are, in fact, beggars for our salvation and exaltation. We want God to judge us fairly but we somehow often let ourselves have some kind of righteous indignation or make righteous judgment towards someone else without even stopping to think about this: (vs 18) “…O man, whosoever doeth this (will stay your hand & judge another) the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.” Those are pretty strong words. I’ve been more than guilty most of my life for judging others when I shouldn’t have done so. And of course, there are times we need to make judgments like what kind of friends our kids are hanging out with, who they are dating, what they are doing or not doing with their lives, etc., but those are parent kinds of judgments that need to be made. I’m talking about the judgments we make for another parent or someone else and not for ourselves.
As King Benjamin continues, he directs his counsel to those who are rich or have abundance first and then comes to those who do not have. I think I have interpreted vs 24 incorrectly because it is an easy out: “And again I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.” I have not had much to give money-wise during my life and I have used this scripture to help me feel a little better. However, there is something everyone can give: we can give more patience, more understanding, more kindness and we can share more knowledge. As I was thinking about that after my lesson, I was reminded of Matthew 20 and the parable of the landowner and the laborers. For some reason, I had never connected this parable with King Benjamin’s sermon as having anything to do with each other but they are in perfect harmony. Those of you in this family that are older and have had more life experience, you are the laborers that have been in the field for eight hours. Your reward is exaltation and joy and knowledge. The younger members of our family are those that have come in at the last hour. Their reward is the same as yours but you have been here longer and in some instances, just because of sheer age and experience, are wiser than the younger ones. Each person has their own strengths and all have weaknesses. It is easy to judge on all sides.
I am slowly learning this one very important thing: you have all been taught the same truths by your father and me. We have taught you to make decisions based upon truth and obedience to the doctrines of God. We have encouraged you to seek answers through the Spirit. Sadly, I have, at times questioned some of your decisions and have forgotten that you know how to follow the Spirit. I am not in your shoes. I cannot judge you. God has figuratively and literally been in your shoes and only He can judge your actions. Dad and I can perhaps shed some insight simply because of our added life experiences, but judgment is wrong. We must trust that you will go through the processes to find your own answers and to follow the promptings that God will send your way. You may fail in some attempts because that is part of learning in this life. You will succeed more often than fail.
If you impart of your substance, impart of your goodness and spirit and knowledge as well. If you have nothing to give of material manner, give of your goodness and spirit and knowledge.
I know one thing for certain and that is the fact that if anyone in this family were to be attacked by someone, every single one of you would be to their sides in a heartbeat and we would all support each other with a vengeance. You are that kind of people. You are that kind of friend to each other.
I have decided to share this because I was so moved in teaching the lesson about my own weaknesses and my own needs. I am also aware of several issues various family members are facing that may be unknown to one another. If you ever are tempted to judge another or question why they have done something, talk to them directly. Find out why. Call often enough to find out how and what to pray for in regards to your siblings. Don’t call another sibling to find out the facts. They may not have them or they may have wrong facts. Talk to each other. Cheer for each other. Pray and fast for each other. Most importantly, impart of your spiritual substance for each other. I know your hearts. I am humbled to be called your mother.