Let your light so shine before men

A few weeks ago, I decided to start studying the Gospels for my scripture study, and earlier this week, I started the Sermon on the Mount. Then I came across Matt. 5:16:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This is a scripture I’ve commonly heard, particularly as a youth growing up in the church. I had always given it a superficial treatment. But when I was reading it this week, I gained a few insights I hadn’t considered before.

Take the phrase “so shine”, for example. That phrasing suggests that the way to let our light shine had been previously mentioned. Let’s look at the previous two verses:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

I believe the latter half of the quote indicates the method by which we let our light so shine: on a candlestick. We don’t hide the light we have; we bring it into the open and share it, or—more specifically—we give it away.

And why do we let our light so shine? So others may see our good works and glorify God. I find the connection to our works interesting. When we share our light with others, they will notice our good works. Maybe that means that the way we let our light shine is through our good works. As we do what is right, they will see that light within is.

For some reason, I thought the end of the verse—glorifying God—was something for us to do, but I realized during this reading that this is something done by those who see our good works. In other words, we are encouraged to have works so good that they encourage those who see them to glorify God.

Is it any wonder then why Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others. If we love others to the point that such love permeates our actions, speech, and even our thoughts, maybe it will prompt others to glorify God.

What do you think?

Someone isn’t taking the sacrament; do you judge or support?

I was recently listening to a A Thoughtful Faith podcast episode with Nathaniel Givens. Toward the end, Nathaniel discusses how the sacrament within the LDS church is an open experience, as we share it with one another. He explicitly mentions at one point that he was not encouraging others to watch for others not taking of the sacrament.

That idea of watching for others not taking the sacrament got me thinking.

It’s probably something each of us has seen: someone not taking the sacrament. Perhaps, even, we have been one of those who hadn’t taken it.

When we do notice someone not partaking of the sacrament, even if unintended, what is our first impulse? Do we start wondering to ourselves about what sin it might be that this brother or sister committed? Do we find ourselves judging them?

I wonder if, maybe, we should be mindful to taking another approach. One alternative, if we happen to notice someone not taking the sacrament, is to remind ourselves that perhaps this brother or sister is struggling with something. We should remind ourselves that they’re trying. We should ask ourselves what we can do to offer a hand of support without prying. We should take note of the covenant we’re making at that exact moment to take upon ourselves Jesus’s name and find a way to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

Remember, the energy we devote to judging others is energy taken away from being more like Christ.

How each of us can fulfill the Law of Moses

During family scripture study this week, I came across Romans 13:8:

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

I found this verse intriguing for a couple of reasons.

First, I liked the idea of not owing anyone anything other than loving them. This is interesting to me because it shows that we actually owe others our love, and it also shows that material things don’t matter as much as love does.

The second reason is I like the idea of each of us fulfilling the Law of Moses through loving others. Consider Matt. 22:37–40:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Even Jesus got behind the idea of loving others supersedes all other commandments.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:17), Jesus taught us that he came to fulfill the Law of Moses:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

The fact that all he did was motivated by love, it seems to bring a new meaning to trying to be like Jesus.

Gratitude and Patience

A day late, I know. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. But today I am reflecting on what I am thankful for, and trying to remember this (actually currently on a minute by minute basis). Recently my prayers have included asking for help in being patient with my children. Oh it is SO easy to be patient with babies, and toddlers. Not quite as much with growing children with strong personalities and minds of their own (can we say a 7 year old boy with an abundance of energy and 2 sisters he delights in teasing??).

I remember though, that I am so grateful for these beautiful wonderful children and one day, yes, one day, this overly energetic son and my budding pre-teen daughter (cringe), independent 3 year old and baby coming and any more who will come to us, will be all grown up and I won’t have my babies to cuddle and children to protect and nurture. That will be their job with their children. So learning to enjoy and revel in this time is vitally important. So yes, I am learning patience. At least I hope so.

Love One Another, As I Have Loved You

My personal quest has been, recently, to study and understand the principle of charity better. Even more so, to understand the true nature of love, as the Saviour would have us love. So, I have been studying the scriptures, thinking about it, thinking about the nature of Jesus Christ, reading other publications, such as The Peacegiver: How Christ heals our hearts and homes and The Anatomy of Peace (which I am currently in the middle of reading).

Just yesterday I had an epiphany.

I asked myself the following question, or rather, the following question came to my mind; Why do I love Jesus Christ? (or anyone I love, for that matter). Why do I feel humble when thinking of Him, why do I get an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love when I think about Him? Is it because of anything I have done? Is it because I feel I deserve or should be loved by Him? No.

And why do I have a desire to be better and to do what He wants me to do? Why do I strive (with limited success) to be like Him? Why do I want to be like Him?

It is because He loves me. And I don’t just think this, it is something I know and feel and am aware of on a basic level. His love for me is apparent when I feel the spirit, when I think of His life, how He lived and behaved towards people He came in contact with. This is independent of His teachings to obey the commandments. His love for me is unconditional. Remember, this is independent of His teachings to be obedient and follow the commandments. Loving me does not mean He expects less of me or will let me off the hook.

So all these things I feel and want to be are inspired by His love for me. Not for anything in myself or that I have created. This is the love that He wants us to have for others. For our husbands and wives, our parents, our children, our friends, our other family members, our acquaintances, those we have conflict with, those who are not like us, those who offend us, those who hurt us, those we have no reason to like, those who do things that annoy us. Everyone. He wants us to actually have this love so that they feel this love and are saved by it.

I understand what this love is. It isn’t the doing, it is the state of heart and mind, of truly loving, so that in our demeanor, attitude and behaviour towards others, we radiate this love. This is why people flocked to Him, why children surrounded Him. They knew His love was genuine and constant, they basked in it and wanted it. When He came to the Americas, this is why the multitude didn’t want Him to leave. This is the Spirit which cannot help but be present in the face of such love. It is a love that grows and needs no effort, because it is. It is something that is possible to attain through a lifetime of learning and growth. He has this love for all. We can at least, have this love for those around us.

This is a love I can develop over time, independent of my expectations of others, that I can come to with His help. But this is the true concept of the love of Jesus Christ.

Choices and Consequences

My mind has been somewhat taken up with the news of the deaths of these poor baby girls in Saskatchewan, left to freeze and die in the cold snow, in -50 degree weather, this week. My heart breaks for them, for their loved ones, including the young father who left them (and again we don’t know all the details) because in spite of the mistakes he made, in taking them out without proper clothes, and leaving them, because he wasn’t aware of all he was doing, he is suffering for the choices he made. It looks as though something precipitated this, which caused a string of ill advised choices, fueled by alcohol and stress. I am not judging either, but just feeling pain for this family and these poor babies.The comfort is that I know Heavenly Father sent his angels to hold these innocents, to bring them home and maybe maybe to take away the suffering from the cold. Maybe the cold didn’t cause them too much physical anguish? I don’t know much of what freezing to death is like, and I don’t want to find out that they suffered excruciating pain, so young as they are. Children, especially the smallest ones need and are to be protected. So many children for many different reasons are not, and I know this hurts the Lord, I don’t question why He doesn’t always interfere, because He is wiser than I am.

What I feel, as a mother (and even just as a human being) is this urgency, to protect and save the suffering babies. Right now, this is the current one in my mind, these little girls who had little protection from the elements.

I am not thinking (as I know some are) that it is just more evidence of problems on the reserves. No, it is a human problem. The choices made by the father he will regret for the rest of his life. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and sorrow he is experiencing, and their mother as well, that because of a fight, she was not there to watch over and keep her girls safe. The tragedy just transcends all blame at that end.

I do think there is some responsibility for a government that does not regulate the sale of alcohol better. Yes, this father (and so many other alcoholics) made his own choice to purchase and consume alcohol, but evidence shows that First Nations people are genetically more prevalent to substance addiction. The government makes too much money, though to not control the purchase of alcohol or the accessibility of it, better. Do they think of the victims of alcoholism? The innocents, who because of this freedom to drink yourself into a stupor, suffer, and sometimes pay, as in this case, with their lives.

See, children have a right to be protected, to be cared for. They cannot care for themselves. If a puppy or a kitten had been left out there, that animal may have had a better chance of survival. But if an adult is at risk, then how much more are a 3 year old and a baby barely over the age of a year unable to look after themselves? Especially in the debilitating cold.

But the government does not want to lose the revenue they gain through the suffering of others. Our governments (provincial and federal) who are supposed to do their best for the citizens make poor decisions that affect the lives and well being of those who do not choose to even participate in that. These little girls were not a part of the decision their father made to drink, nor a part of the decision to sell the alcohol, to create easy access to it’s sale, to make it in the first place. Adults, people who are supposed to have the intelligence to make responsible choices designed to promote the well being and safety of those they have stewardship over, were the ones who made the decision that resulted in the suffering and death of two little girls.

All I know is that a loving Saviour held them in His arms, this I know, brought them home and ended their suffering and kept them safe and I am sure, wept tears because of His great love, not only for them, but for all involved.

Filled with light and charity?

We read the following in D&C 88:67:

And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.

Mormon tells us the following:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love [that is, charity], which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.

Now, when I fill a glass of water, I cannot fill it with milk until it is empty again. So how can we be filled with charity when our bodies are filled with light?