Do Thou Likewise
First, President Ballard talks about the parable of the Good Samaritan. We've all heard it, it's well known, but I don't know if everyone realizes the extent of the lesson that was given. Maybe that's why it was a parable ;) So let's back up a second and cover a few things- first, it started with a lawyer asking Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what he knew of the law that was written. He told Jesus, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Then the lawyer, knowing they were strict on who they were allowed to associate with according to Jewish law, asked the Savior, "Who is my neighbour?" Thus we begin the parable. To sum it up, there was a man on the road to Jericho from Jerusalem who fell among thieves and was beaten, left for dead. Other people passed by him- a priest and a Levite- but none stopped until a Samaritan came upon him. We all know that priests are generally expected to administer to the poor, but what exactly is a Levite? There is a lot of information available but basically Levites were similar to priests with a few distinct differences. Levites are those from the tribe of Levi who were assigned the task of ministering in the sanctuaries. They often helped priests in the temples with holy duties.
When we dissect this parable, we can see the significance of this man being passed by those that should have had the physical and spiritual eyes to identify his needs. The Samaritans, on the other hand, were hated by the Jews. They had apostatized from the Israelite religion and mixed their seed with the Gentiles. They were no longer "pure" as the Jews saw, and their religion was a mix of pagan rituals and Jewish beliefs. They literally took longer roads to avoid each other as they traveled. There was obvious tension between the two groups.
Okay, so back to our parable. The Samaritan stops, and not only helps the man, but goes completely above and beyond by taking him to an inn and binding up his wounds and taking care of him. Jesus then asks the lawyer, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?” to which he replied, "He that shewed mercy on him.” Then, the Savior, teaches him (and us):
“Go, and do thou likewise”What a profound statement! President Ballard goes into how Christ's instruction to love our neighbors is literally doctrine in this gospel. It is not a suggestion or even a guideline- it's a commandment! What, then, stops us from doing so? Maybe it's because some people don't act like they want it. Maybe some people are cold and stand-offish. Maybe they've offended us. Maybe we've offended them. Sometimes personalities just don't vibe right and socializing can be difficult. I would ask, then, what exactly does it mean to "love" them? When we think about all the people in our lives, surely they are all different with unique needs. Sometimes we wait until we can see the obvious needs like bringing food to someone when they've had a baby or with the death of a loved one. We look for the physical things that need to be done like cleaning or organizing. With how busy we are, that's the easiest thing to try to identify quickly while ministering or visiting. I am not saying those things are wrong or should be shrugged off. If there is a need and you can address it, DO IT. But, as I've found with our new ministering program, most needs are oftentimes not easily identifiable. Loving our neighbor can mean earnestly praying for them. With that can be praying for the Spirit to help us understand how we can impact their life in a positive way. Heavenly Father knows exactly what they need and praying gives Him a way to guide our minds to those things. Some people need a friend to talk to. Learning how to actively listen is not only important in close personal or professional relationships, but also in meeting new people and giving them the attention the Savior would. Other people love little gifts like food or trinkets, some people appreciate texts with spiritual thoughts or just letting them know you're thinking about and praying for them. And then there are those who just want to be left alone. These people can be difficult to read and may seem "not worth" our time. I'll reiterate the importance of prayer with these people- our physical presence in their life may not always be what these people need. These are the neighbors that may be used to being on their own and prefer it that way. They can, however, still be greatly influenced by the power of the Holy Ghost. This is where your faith, earnest prayers, and sincere desire for them to come unto Christ or even just be happy, is imperative to loving them. Understanding they need space, but that your faithful prayers can bring miracles or tender mercies into their life, helps us realize the extent of the Lord for each one of us individually. He doesn't love just the extroverts in this world. He doesn't just care for, comfort, and watch over those that are willing to reach out for help. He continues to keep His hands outstretched for everyone, even those that refuse His help. Your prayers may help their hearts soften and eventually come to a better understanding of Christ's love for them.
Loving our neighbor is no easy task. Being tolerant of those that may be different than us is, at times, hard to do. Right now, with the world in such chaos and confusion over what is right and true, we see many who refuse to associate with those that are different because they disagree. President Ballard quoted President Hinckley who said, “Each of us is an individual. Each of us is different. There must be respect for those differences… We must work harder to build mutual respect, an attitude of forbearance, with tolerance one for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may espouse. Concerning these you and I may disagree. But we can do so with respect and civility”. The world is losing a lot of respect and civility. I hope, as saints, we and other faithful people can be the glue that holds that together. President Ballard closes with this:
"Love one another. Be kind to one another despite our deepest differences. Treat one another with respect and civility. I know and testify that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, and I know that He expects all of us to follow His admonition to be better neighbors".
May we find ways to be more tolerant, loving, compassionate, kind, and sincere with our neighbors. May we find the strength and humility to pray to minister to them according to their unique needs. May we have an open heart and mind so the Spirit may clearly guide us as we earnestly seek to treat others more like the Savior and see them as He does. May we learn from the Samaritan and may we follow His counsel to "Go, and do thou likewise".
This quote reminds me to be a better minister, neighbor, friend, and overall daughter of God as I strive to follow the example of the Savior. I have both a 5x7 and 8x10 available for you to download of the photo at the top of this post. Enjoy :)
5x7 PDF Download
8x10 PDF Download