Sunday, August 22, 2021

For your good


We will face many a heartbreak during our mortal lives. Even so, we know that God is just and merciful. It may be difficult to reconcile this in our minds when so much that happens in our lives seems unfair and tragic. But if we will trust God, we will one day find that He never allowed us to experience anything that wouldn't eventually be for our good. That isn't to minimize the pain that we feel the moment heartbreak occurs. Rather, it gives us hope that one day our broken hearts will be healed. It also gives us perspective to think that every experience, even the bad ones, can help us draw nearer to God. In order to do so, we must strive to climb out from the burden of bitterness and self-pity, and look and reach upwards.

It mattereth not


The Book of Mormon tells the story of a lengthy war between the Nephite and Lamanite nations. Moroni, captain over the Nephite forces, sent a strongly worded letter to Pahoran, chief judge over the Nephites, all but accusing him of being a traitor to his people for not sending enough supplies and reinforcements for him to be able to adequately defend his people. Alma 61 contains Pahoran's response, in which he explains that there was an insurrection at the Nephite capital, which had prevented him from being able to send aid. Pahoran could have finished his letter by scolding Moroni for the assumptions and false accusations he made. But instead, he quickly forgave him. Not only that, he chose to see the good in Moroni's heart; Moroni's strong words were evidence of how much he cared for his country and the freedom of his people. Pahoran recognized and acknowledged an important truth: they were both on the same side.

We will certainly encounter those who believe things that aren't true. Sometimes those beliefs may even cause them to lash out at us. We can respond by choosing to see the goodness in their hearts. That's not to say we shouldn't stand up for ourselves. But recognizing that, deep down, we are all ultimately on the same side can help us to know the best way to respond and help us to forgive more quickly.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Ye shall not teach


Saints in the early Church needed frequent reminders (as do we all) that there's a difference between the Lord's way of teaching, and the way that often comes naturally. Disciples of Christ have received a divine mandate to preach His Gospel to all the world (see Matthew 28:19-20). However, as important as it is to be willing to boldly declare the word to others, it's just as important to know when to stay silent.

We are not without example from the master teacher Himself. There were numerous occasions when Jesus remained silent, at times even refusing to answer a direct question (for example, Matthew 26:63, St John 19:9, Luke 23:9). The pattern for these cases seems to be that the listener or questioner was not spiritually prepared to receive instruction. In addition to this possibility, we have our own spiritual preparedness to be concerned about. Hatred, pride, or anger can impede our own ability to teach. If at any time we feel that the Holy Spirit is not present to carry the truth into the hearts of of those with whom we are speaking, it is better to exercise restraint and forbear.

The statement that we "shall not teach" if we receive not the Spirit could be seen as both a commandment and a warning. We are commanded not to teach if we receive not the Spirit, and we are warned that if we attempt to do so anyway, we won't teach, because the one we are trying to teach won't learn anything. After all, no one can be forced to understand, much less accept truth. And attempting to force it can actually create a stumbling block, making it more difficult to reach someone in the future.

There may be times when we are speaking to one who is not receptive, and yet we feel prompted to continue teaching. It could be that they will remember the words taught to them at a later time when they are more open to it. There may be others present who need to hear it. Or it may simply be for our own benefit, to strengthen our testimonies and help plant the seeds of truth even deeper into our own hearts. If we suspect that this may be the case, we should examine our hearts and motives, and sense whether the Spirit is indeed present. When in doubt, we can be bold and speak up, provided we do so with humility and love. But when we can tell the Spirit is not present, we should save our teaching for a time when He is.