Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “The best and most clear indicator that we are progressing and coming unto Christ is the way we treat other people.”1
When we have Christ’s image in our own countenance and see others through the eyes of Christ, we will have a greater capacity to see Christ’s image in the countenance of others. This will elevate our desires to treat others better.
We need to live beyond what we see—and live beyond our own perceptions and expectations to view others in a new light.
As we identify and contemplate a new way of treating people, we may need to ask ourselves: do we see our Goliaths as being too big to slay or overcome? Or do we see as David saw—as through God’s eyes—that Goliath was too big to miss?
With an invitation to be anxiously engaged in improving how we treat others, I hope we don’t become too anxious about the improvements we need to make in our own lives. Please remember, the more we improve, the more good we will be able to see in others.
We all communicate and react differently but let us look for different ways to see others and for better ways to communicate with them.
Thou shalt not get angry. If we are right, we don’t need to get angry, and if we are wrong, we can’t afford to.
Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy said, “Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose! …
“This doctrine or command from the Lord presupposes agency and is an appeal to the conscious mind to make a decision. The Lord expects us to make the choice not to become angry.”2
Yes, we all have faults, but how do we treat each other’s faults? We had better cover our neighbour’s faults with a cloak of charity, for we may need a circus tent to cover our own.
Matthew 25:40 states: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
So, if we are angry or use raised voices or have unpleasant tones in our speech, or if we are unkind, we are not only behaving like that towards each other, but also to the Lord Jesus Christ. We could say that our love for Christ is equivalent to the love we have for the person we love the least.
Elder James E. Talmage taught: “It was a custom of the times to treat a distinguished guest with marked attention; to receive him with a kiss of welcome, to provide water for washing the dust from his feet, and oil for anointing the hair of the head and the beard.”3
Simon was a Pharisee; a member of the religious party that was very strict in observing the law of Moses. The debtor in the parable who owed 50 pence was Simon (Luke 7:41–47).
Simon did not provide Jesus with water to wash His feet, he did not give Him a kiss, he did not anoint Him with oil. Simon loved Him little. Nevertheless, let us remember that Simon also needed forgiveness, as we all do.
The woman, who was a sinner, was the 500 pence debtor in this parable. She washed the Saviour’s feet with her tears and wiped them with the hairs on her head; she continually kissed his feet and she anointed his feet with ointment. She loved Him much.
When we show love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, we can experience His forgiveness. As we receive the Lord’s forgiveness, we are filled with desire to love and serve Him more. Christ forgave the woman completely and He also loved her completely. Her sins, which were many, were forgiven (verse 48).
If we as a people only forgive a little, we only love a little.
Forgiveness is tough, dangerous and exciting.
Tough because of our human nature,
Dangerous because it forces us to take responsibility for future progress, and
Exciting because it frees us to become our best self.
It has been said: a lack of forgiveness is like injecting ourselves’ with poison and waiting for the other person to die.
So—how should we react when somebody does something wrong?
Doctrine and Covenants 121:43–44 provides steps to follow when taking care of another person’s sin?
Address the matter [sin] quickly and clearly. It is important to be firm and fair.
Respond by using the power of the Holy Ghost; not in your anger.
Show increased love.
Our goal is not to go out to lynch others, hit them or hurt them. Rather we are to be faithful to God; and loyal and protective of the person who has made the mistake.
Forgiveness is not just about forgiving somebody who has sinned or hurt us, but also forgiving others who have not performed or done what we feel they should be doing.
People, friends and family will disappoint us and let us down from time to time, but how we feel about them, and how we treat them, will be the same as how we feel and treat Jesus Christ. It will also be a real test of who we really are.
Brothers and sisters, silver and gold have I none but in the name of Jesus Christ I invite us all to rise up and see the children of God with new eyes, hear with new ears and speak with a new tongue, so that we can show by the way we speak and treat others that we are truly converted to Christ.