Humility, certainty and judging righteous judgments!
(3 Nephi 11:28 And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.)
We are in a very interesting position as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As bearers of a testimony, we can possess a great degree of certainty about certain topics and issues. Often, this may even involve very controversial issues such as moral and social issues that are widely debated in society at large.
I blogged a few weeks ago about Elder Holland’s CES devotional about finding the balance between standing strong for our beliefs, but since then I have realized again and again how elusive and difficult that balance truly is.
As disciples of Christ we have covenanted to everywhere and at all times be witnesses of him. Yet, there is also a mandate to love others, to not judge and to treat others as we would ourselves wish to be treated. We covenant to be Christlike not just in our beliefs, but also in our actions
Elder Holland spoke for the savior with this incredible summation of how we are called to find the right balance by first becoming and then declaring.
“If we do right and talk right and reach out generously with our words and our deeds, then when the Savior cuts short His work in righteousness, says time is no more in this last, great dispensation and then comes in His glory, He will find us—you and me and all of us—doing our best, trying to live the gospel, trying to improve our lives and our Church and our society the best way we can. When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good. I want the Savior to say to me: “Jeffrey”—because He knows all of our names—“I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself, and then by declaring my word and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could.”
I would be the first to admit that at times since I’ve come home from my mission, my zeal to testify of what I feel to be true. I have managed at times to hurt people with my harshness or my lack of compassion. I am deeply sorry for anyone that I may have hurt and offended. I am very ready to admit that I have fallen short of this ideal. Yet, I hope that I can always strive to become more and more like Jesus Christ.
A month or so ago, I wrote a rather angry political article articulating my change in political affiliation. Luckily, I had someone dear to me read it over and she helped me realize that it wasn’t something that reflected my love and charity, but rather it was focused in anger. I scrapped it and am glad that I did Over the past few weeks, as I have watched the political debate in this country unfold, I have been struck by how uncharitable and unchristlike it is. I am struck by Elder Uchtdorf’s plea for civility made more than two years ago
“Brethren, unfortunately we see today too often the same kind of attitude and behavior spill over into the public discourse of politics, ethnicity, and religion.
My dear brethren of the priesthood, my beloved fellow disciples of the gentle Christ, should we not hold ourselves to a higher standard? As priesthood bearers, we must realize that all of God’s children wear the same jersey. Our team is the brotherhood of man. This mortal life is our playing field. Our goal is to learn to love God and to extend that same love toward our fellowman. We are here to live according to His law and establish the kingdom of God. We are here to build, uplift, treat fairly, and encourage all of Heavenly Father’s children.”
Thankfully, even as the debates have intensified, I have felt myself drawn away from it. I watch with a sense of bemusement and interest, but I try to avoid getting too emotional about one candidate or another. I try to remember that both of these men are fundamentally decent and good family men with merely a different understanding of the world. I have seen an increase of charity as I have tried to remember that fundamental similarity rather than focus on the things that divide us.
Its harder however at times to be neutral on the moral issues that have come to be most important to me. Yet, I know that people that hold different views on Gay Marriage, Abortion or any number of other social issues are equally sincere and equally energized about these issues. I know their righteous indignation at the viewpoints I hold, because I once viewed the issue from the other side. Those liberals that support gay marriage do it with the absolute best motives and purest intentions. They really believe that they are fighting our days equivalent of the civil rights movement. It is so critical to never doubt the sincerity of others. To never belittle or put down. To never think less of others because they do not hold the same view.
Elder Holland hints at how we navigate this difficult balance.
“In short, we try to be at our best in this situation in a desire to help (others) be at (their) best. We keep praying silently: What is the right thing to do here? And what is the right thing to say? What ultimately will make this situation…better? Asking these questions and really trying to do what the Savior would do is what I think He meant when He said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”15
In short, I know that I have not been as effective at this as I would like. I apologize to those that I have offended and declare that I respect and love you especially for the places where we differ! I hope that I can continue to become more christ like as I attempt to share the gospel truths that I hold dear!