Monday, January 22, 2018

D&C 121:42-44 - Gentleness, Meekness, Love, and Kindness

After re-reading President Monson’s April 2017 conference talk titled “Kindness, Charity, and Love” I have been thinking about why he would choose this subject as one of his final talks to the people of the Church.  It is not a new topic for him, but considering that he has spoken on a variety of topics as a prophet, why would he choose this one as his final 5 minutes standing before the priesthood?  During that talk he quoted both Moroni 7:44-47 and D&C 121:42-44.  

Christ reaching out to a woman and her baby, who are sitting at the base of a tree while others look on in curiosity.41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

This scripture contains the key virtues of priesthood service, namely, persuasion, patience, gentleness, meekness, love, and kindness. As I thought about these virtues, I remembered that Elder Renlund gave an incredible talk in April of 2015 called “Latter-day Saints keep on Trying”.  

In his talk he made this statement.  

"Just as God rejoices when we persevere, He is disappointed if we do not recognize that others are trying too. Our dear friend Thoba shared how she learned this lesson from her mother, Julia. Julia and Thoba were among the early black converts in South Africa. After the apartheid regime ended, black and white members of the Church were permitted to attend church together. For many, the equality of interaction between the races was new and challenging. One time, as Julia and Thoba attended church, they felt they were treated less than kindly by some white members. As they left, Thoba complained bitterly to her mother. Julia listened calmly until Thoba had vented her frustration. Then Julia said, “Oh, Thoba, the Church is like a big hospital, and we are all sick in our own way. We come to church to be helped.”

"Julia’s comment reflects a valuable insight. We must not only be tolerant while others work on their individual illnesses; we must also be kind, patient, supportive, and understanding. As God encourages us to keep on trying, He expects us to also allow others the space to do the same, at their own pace. The Atonement will come into our lives in even greater measure. We will then recognize that regardless of perceived differences, all of us are in need of the same infinite Atonement."

There are many who are blessed to live in a large, active, and mature (in the gospel) wards.  This is a great blessing to our families, but it also can lead to some challenges.  When we are surrounded by so many strong members of the Church, it is easy to forget that there are people in our ward who struggle.   As you consider the doctrine and principles Elder Renlund discussed in his talk it would be appropriate for each of us to consider how we can patient, kind, supportive, and understanding of all the members our wards.