Hopefully, having it available as a book will spare me thousands of conversations. Hope you will all enjoy.
Christ’s admonition is troubling because the cares of this world distract us all. They impose upon us all. But Christ advises us to search endlessly for light.
The difference between filling yourself with light and filling yourself with darkness is what thoughts you entertain.
Everything begins in the mind. Words and works flow from thoughts. (Alma 12: 14.) While all three will be judged, it is in the mind where all else begins.
It is not enough to attempt to avoid evil by memorizing hymns. You can spend as many wasted hours humming hymns as singing rock songs. Neither one will particularly elevate you. Meditating on doctrine, pressing understanding, pondering deeply and engaging the mysteries of God are what will fill the mind with light.
There is so much in our faith that distracts and substitutes for light and truth. Think about these verses and filling your mind with light and truth: “And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that lightgroweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;” (D&C 50: 23-25.)
The Psalms were quoted by Christ more than any other scripture. They are filled with truths worth meditation.
Having darkness within you does not require an effort to be deliberately vile. The cares of this world, and coping with Babylon is all that is needed to keep you from acquiring light. Finding light requires a deliberate effort to notice it and take it in.
When we are filled with light the heavens notice. In fact, it is the light within us that heaven notices even from afar.
Where is your heart? What do you meditate on day and night? Do you dream of wealth and power, of fame and recognition? Do you ponder how you might acquire more and receive more? Do you meditate on the lusts of the body? What occupies the spare moments of your life?
Here’s a recent random reflection I had on one matter answered by scripture:
-In a recent Gospel Doctrine discussion I was told about a teacher who was reluctant to admit David was a prophet, because David fell. (D&C 132: 39.) The notion that a prophet could fall undermines the current false notion that a President of the LDS Church cannot fail. That is rubbish, of course. But it is well circulated and ardently defended rubbish.
-Anyone can fall. Seems to me that it is more important for me to worry about my own fall than it is to foolishly trust in some other person’s success or failure. We are all accountable for our own sins. (Art. Faith 2)
Men should see your comfortable behavior and never appreciate what great things you have put on the altar in sacrifice to Him.
As I have said in The Second Comforter, some great things can be learned but not taught. Also, the Lord will never entrust truly sacred things to a person who is incapable of keeping them confidential. It is surprising how few people really believe in that principle. It is surprising how many people want that principle violated because they are curious, anxious and think it their right to receive what is purchased by someone else at a terrible personal price. It is surprising what things people will ask for and expect to be given, despite the fact that they haven’t worked for them. It can’t be shared by anyone other than you and the Lord. Whenever you disrespect that limitation by your questions, or demands you make to others, you postpone the time when you might have received greater things. You do not need a guru. You need the Lord. You do not need another John, Moses, Elias, Esaias, Isaiah, or Enoch. (See D&C 76: 100.) You need Him.
It is a formula for returning to His presence.
It is the basis for the coming Zion.
“For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.“
This is an absolute condition. It is mandatory.
If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespass.
You can’t be forgiven by the Father if you do not forgive others.
It can’t be done.
That grudge you harbor prevents the Father from forgiving you.
Those resentments you think are justified are keeping you from being forgiven by the Father.
Those injustices imposed upon you by others who are unthinking or cruel must be surrendered.
The early Saints were victimized by mobs in Missouri and Illinois. They wanted revenge. Brigham Young implemented a covenant to seek vengeance upon the murderers of Joseph Smith until the third and fourth generation. They did not build Zion.
The opposite of this is forgiveness. If you forgive, your Heavenly Father WILL forgive you. Offenses are opportunities for you to gain forgiveness. All you need to do is forgive them.
It is a simple, direct cause and effect. It was ordained before the world was founded, and applies universally in all ages and among all people.
The world is in Satan’s grip largely because the world seeks vengeance and refuses to forgive.
Zion, on the other hand, will be filled with those who forgive. Of course that puts an absolute limit on those who can dwell there. …Very few indeed.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.”
Here is wisdom indeed. There is no magic formula for communicating with God. No list of what is to be said or repeated. No vain –meaning ineffective– repetitions. He “gets it” even before you speak. So the act of prayer is a formal way of showing:
-Respect (by doing what He has asked)
Therefore, if the Matthew text is correct, and the differences are accounted for in what we have just reviewed, then the admonition of Christ for our own perfection is not just an earthly endeavor. It is an invitation to follow Him and His Father into a loftier state, as well. (Abr. 3: 26.) One where the final realization will come only as we are able to endure greater glory than a mortal may possess. (Moses 1: 5.)
Be ye therefore perfect. And start on that this moment. For you haven’t another moment to spare.
Abinadi was a hinge character around whom the story of the Nephites would pivot from his life onward. But he had little success, and was killed by those to whom he ministered.
“And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also;”
This is reforming the law of retaliation or lex talionis. When first adopted, the law of retaliation was designed to limit retribution. It was merciful in the context of the time. It prevented taking a life for an eye. The scope of the injury suffered put a limit on the scope of the retaliation permitted. I taught a class on this ancient law in the BYU Education Week some years ago. It is too much to cover in this post in order to fully understand the ramifications of this law.
The popular understanding of that law is quite a distortion. The injury permitted was not actually exacted under the law. “An eye for an eye” meant that the victim was entitled to take the eye of the one causing the injury. In practice the eye was not taken. The value of the eye was agreed upon between victim and perpetrator. They sealed the agreement before two witnesses in the gate of the city. Then the debtor was obligated to pay the agreed sum (called “satisfaction”). If he defaulted the elders could take the eye as penalty for the default in payment, which stood as collateral for the debt.
Payment of “satisfaction” was permitted and given for offenses under the lex talionis except in the case of a limited class of offenses, including murder. (Numbers 35: 31-32.) In such cases it was considered too dangerous to allow satisfaction, and therefore the penalty needed to be carried out.
Here, Christ is replacing that entire body of law by substituting forgiveness and mercy for justice and recompense. The victim is being urged to seek nothing in return for his injury. Instead, the victim is to bear the injury and allow evil against themselves without retaliation for the offense.
This may seem odd, even wrong. However, there is an example of this in the Book of Mormon. Although many lives were lost in the process, it resulted in the salvation of many souls. The Anti-Lehi-Nephites were unwilling to take up arms to defend themselves, instead allowing their enemies to slay them. The result broke the hearts of those who were killing them, and many were converted by this example. (See Alma 24: 19-27.) But the people of God were joined by more than the number who were slain.
The book by C. Terry Warner titled The Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves explains how the actions of those who forgive are able to break the hearts of those who are forgiven. There is not merely freedom in forgiving others, there is power in it as well. Terry Warner’s book is an examination of the principles of sin and forgiveness, and worth reading if you have not done so before.
We gain power by what things we suffer for the Lord’s sake. Christ who loved the most, sacrificed the most. Those two things are linked together.
This teaching was not only given by Christ, but it was lived by Him also. In this statement, as in no other, He is defining who He is and revealing what His conduct invariably will be. This is the Lord’s standard. This is the Lord’s manner. The choice of turning the other cheek is taken from the Messianic standard described by Isaiah. (Isa. 50: 6; also 53: 5.) We can also heal others by the things we willingly suffer. We can endure and forgive. As we do righteousness increases on the earth.
Saint Francis Assisi believed this, practiced it. In an age of darkness and apostasy, the Lord spoke with St. Francis, and sent angels to minister to him. He is appropriately referred to as a Saint. He lived the Sermon on the Mount. It is perhaps St. Francis, who above all others, proves a mortal may walk in the Lord’s steps. Christ did it first and more completely than would any other. But St. Francis surely followed.
I have little doubt that the Lord’s teachings are impractical in this world. But, then again, we are not called to live for this world, are we? The reason Zion always flees from this world is precisely because the Lord will not permit the world to overwhelm those who would surely be overthrown if not for His grace and protection. He will fight their battles to spare those in Zion from the necessity of becoming warlike. (D&C 105: 14.)
I am amused by the martial inclinations of the Latter-day Saints. When the lamb and lion lie down together I suppose many of the Latter-day Saints expect to be able to hunt them both.