Okay, so I am privledged to again be speaking in church tomorrow.
And true to my word, I am posting it here. I am doing it ahead of actually sharing it at church. Let me know what you think. Here it is:
Thankful to share some thoughts with you today. I would like to start with a quote by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“The truth, like the sturdy oak, has stood unhurt amid the contending elements, which have beat upon it with tremendous force. The floods have rolled, wave after wave, in quick succession, and have not swallowed it up. ‘They have lifted up their voice, O Lord; the floods have lifted up their voice; but the Lord of Hosts is mightier than the mighty waves of the sea’ [see Psalm 93:3–4]; nor have the flames of persecution, with all the influence of mobs, been able to destroy it; but like Moses’ bush, it has stood unconsumed, and now at this moment presents an important spectacle both to men and angels.
“Where can we turn our eyes to behold such another? We contemplate a people who have embraced a system of religion, unpopular, and the adherence to which has brought upon them repeated persecutions. A people who, for their love to God, and attachment to His cause, have suffered hunger, nakedness, perils, and almost every privation. A people who, for the sake of their religion, have had to mourn the premature death of parents, husbands, wives, and children. A people who have preferred death to slavery and hypocrisy, and have honorably maintained their characters, and stood firm and immovable, in times that have tried men’s souls.”
We have a new president which has led to much debate, for some strong dislike and frustration. Proposition 8 in California passed and has been the source of strong resentment towards many Christian faiths, especially our church. Many members, maybe even you, have had a chance to express your views in defense of the church regarding the latter event. President Hales tells us in his talk “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship”:
As we respond to others, each circumstance will be different. Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord.
Paul reminded the Corinthians that his preaching was “not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Because that power resides in the Spirit of the Lord, we must never become contentious when we are discussing our faith. As almost every missionary learns, Bible bashing always drives the Spirit away. The Savior has said, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me” (3 Nephi 11:29). More regrettable than the Church being accused of not being Christian is when Church members react to such accusations in an un-Christlike way! May our conversations with others always be marked by the fruits of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23). To be meek, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is “manifesting patience and longsuffering: enduring injury without resentment.”2 Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage.
This is especially important in our interactions with members of other Christian denominations. Surely our Heavenly Father is saddened—and the devil laughs—when we contentiously debate doctrinal differences with our Christian neighbors.
This is not to suggest that we compromise our principles or dilute our beliefs. We cannot change the doctrines of the restored gospel, even if teaching and obeying them makes us unpopular in the eyes of the world. Yet even as we feel to speak the word of God with boldness, we must pray to be filled with the Holy Ghost (see Acts 4:29, 31). We should never confuse boldness with Satan’s counterfeit: overbearance (see Alma 38:12). True disciples speak with quiet confidence, not boastful pride.
President Hales points out meekness as an important quality. I did further research and study on meekness. I came across a inspiring and insightful talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell from a 1982 BYU Stake Fireside. I would like to share a portion of it with you.
“…in matters little or large, if our emulation of the Lord is to be serious, we must do more than note and passively admire Jesus’ meekness. We must simulate his meekness, remembering that he passed through “all these things,” which gave Him, too, needed experiences. (See D&C 122:7.)
Meekness is one of those attributes acquired only by experience, some of it painful, for it is developed “according to the flesh.” (Alma 7:11–12.) It is not an attribute achieved overnight, nor is it certified to in only one exam—but, rather, “in process of time.” (Moses 7:21, 68–69.) The Savior said we are to “take up [the] cross daily”—not just once or occasionally. (Luke 9:23.) His rigorous requirement places a premium upon our having meekness.
There is, of course, much accumulated stereotyping surrounding this virtue. We even make nervous jokes about meekness, such as, “If the meek intend to inherit the earth, they are going to have to be more aggressive about it!” We even tend to think of a meek individual as being used and abused—as being a doormat for others. However, Moses was once described as being the most meek man on the face of the earth (see Num. 12:3), yet we recall his impressive boldness in the courts of Pharaoh and his scalding indignation following his descent from Sinai.
President Brigham Young, who was tested in many ways and on many occasions, was once tried in a way that required him to “take it”—even from one he so much adored and admired. Brigham “took it” because he was meek. Yet, surely, none of us sitting here would think of Brigham Young as lacking in boldness or firmness! However, even President Young, in the closing and prestigious days his spent some time in courtrooms being unjustifiably abused. When he might have chosen to assert himself politically, he “took it”—meekly. (See Francis M. Gibbons, Brigham Young: Modern Moses/Prophet of God, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, pp. 242–54.)
Granted, none of us likes, or should like, to be disregarded, to be silenced, to see a flawed argument prevail, or to endure a gratuitous discourtesy. But such circumstances seldom constitute that field of action from which meekness calls upon us to retire gracefully. Unfortunately, we usually do battle, unmeekly, over far less justifiable things, such as “turf.”
Just what is this “turf” we insist on defending almost at the slightest provocation? If it is real estate, this will not rise with us in the resurrection. If it is concern over the opinions of us held by others, there is only One opinion of us that really matters. Besides, the opinions of others will only be lowered if we go on an ego tantrum. If “turf” is status, we should not be overly concerned with today’s organizational charts. Who cares now about the pecking order in the Sanhedrin in 31 a.d., though so many cared so much at the time? Where are those now who worried so much over losing their places in the synagogues? (See John 12:42.)
Granted, there are some things worth being aroused about, as the Book of Mormon says, such as our families, our homes, our liberties, and our sacred religion. (See Alma 43:45.) But if all our anxiety amounts to is our so-called image, it’s an image that needs to be displaced anyway, so that we can receive His image in our countenances. (See Alma 5:14.)
Let us consider meekness further.
The meek are filled with awe and wonder with regard to God and His purposes in the universe. At the same time, the meek are not awestruck by the many frustrations of life; they are more easily mobilized for eternal causes and less easily immobilized by the disappointments of the day.
Because they make fewer demands of life, the meek are less easily disappointed. They are less concerned with their entitlements than with their assignments.
When we are truly meek, we are not concerned with being pushed around, but are grateful to be pushed along. When we are truly meek, we do not engage in shoulder-shrugging acceptance but in shoulder-squaring, in order that we might better bear the burdens of life and of our fellow beings.
Meekness can also help us in coping with the injustices of life—of which there are quite a few. By the way, will not these experiences with mortal injustices generate within us even more adoration of the perfect justice of God—another of His attributes?
Furthermore, not only are the meek less easily offended, but they are less likely to give offense to others. In contrast, there are some in life who seem, perpetually, to be waiting to be offended.
Their pride covers them like boils which will inevitably be bumped.
Meekness also cultivates in us a generosity in viewing the mistakes and imperfections of others: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, … but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.” (Morm. 9:31.)
And for those of us who are too concerned about status or being last in line or losing our place, we need to reread those words about how the “last shall be first” and the “first shall be last.” (Matt. 19:30.) Assertiveness is not automatically bad, of course, but if we fully understand the motives which underlie some of our acts of assertion, we would be embarrassed. Frankly, when others perceive such motivations, they are sometimes embarrassed for us.
Granted, the meek go on fewer ego trips, but they have far greater adventures. Ego trips, those “travel now and pay later” indulgences, are always detours. The straight and narrow path is, after all, the only path which takes us to new and breathtaking places.
Meekness means less concern over being taken for granted, and more concern over being taken by the hand. Less concern over revising our own plans for us and more concern about adopting His plans for us is another sure sign of meekness.
I know that as I read over those words the first time, I almost flinched. I know that I have been guilty of many “ego” excursions. I also loved how he pointed out that meekness isn’t shoulder shrugging, it is shoulder squaring. It isn’t being pushed around, but rather being pushed along.
The next point I would like to cover from President Hales conference talk is:
As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication. Questions and criticisms give us an opportunity to reach out to others and demonstrate that they matter to our Heavenly Father and to us. Our aim should be to help them understand the truth, not defend our egos or score points in a theological debate. Our heartfelt testimonies are the most powerful answer we can give our accusers. And such testimonies can only be borne in love and meekness. We should be like Edward Partridge, of whom the Lord said, “His heart is pure before me, for he is like unto Nathanael of old, in whom there is no guile” (D&C 41:11). To be guileless is to have a childlike innocence, to be slow to take offense and quick to forgive.
These qualities are first learned in the home and family and can be practiced in all our relationships. To be guileless is to look for our own fault first. When accused, we should ask as the Savior’s Apostles did, “Lord, is it I?” (Matthew 26:22). If we listen to the answer given by the Spirit, we can, if needed, make corrections, apologize, seek forgiveness, and do better.
So in essence, we have to be worthy, willing, and ready to SERVE others. If we get caught up in defending ourselves and not our beliefs, if we speak up, not to defend the truth, but to justify, to make the “I” look good, and not to give insight to the “we”, then we have failed as a true disciple of Christ. We must ask for forgiveness and recommit ourselves to work harder.
I love the talk, The Price of Discipleship, by President Faust from the 199 Ensign. In this talk he says:
The disciples of Christ receive a call not only to forsake the pursuit of worldly things but also to carry the cross. To carry the cross means to follow His commandments and to build up His Church upon the earth. “If any man will come after me,” said Jesus of Nazareth, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
True followers of the Savior should be prepared to lay down their lives, and some have been privileged to do so. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him to come and die.” The Doctrine and Covenants counsels us:
“Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again.
“And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple” (D&C 103:27–28).
For most of us, however, what is required is not to die for the Church but to live for it. The price of discipleship may mean leaving behind many things. Some have learned how dear a price it is to leave loved ones in order to be baptized. Yet Jesus taught, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt. 19:29).
Living a Christlike life every day may for many be even more difficult than laying down one’s life. We learned during wartime that many men were capable of great acts of selflessness, heroism, and nobility with regard to life. But when the war was over and they came home, they could not bear up under the burdens of living the eternal every day and became enslaved by tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and debauchery that in the end caused them to forfeit their lives.
The price of discipleship is to forsake evil transgression and enjoy what President Spencer W. Kimball has called “the miracle of forgiveness.” It is never too late.
It is NEVER too late brothers and sisters. As the world continues to crumble and degrade itself around us, we must work ever harder to be tolerant, not accepting, but tolerant of other’s views. We must realize that at times we must agree to disagree. The gospel is a gospel of love and concern. In every instance, conversation (on-line, on the phone, written, and spoken), and action, we must be slow to anger, never judgmental, and always ready to reach out with love and compassion to those around us. We may not be able to tell them about our beliefs with words, but our actions brothers and sisters, will speak loud and clear for us. Let us not be found guilty of professing to be a disciple while our actions clearly state that we are not.
And on a seperate note, I received this in a message today.