Hopefully, you share with me the frustration of seeing all around us evidence of pride and anger. From our political system to issues of bullying and safety, even in our schools, we see communities and a world that are being torn apart by emotions founded in hate, envy, pride, and dishonesty. There is at this time in our history such an incredibly great need for the kind of behavior and example provided by our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose humble focus on serving others stands as such an outstanding example for everyone.
Let’s briefly explore the characteristics of humility and kindness. By definition, humility suggests a teachable, meek, and modest approach. And, although bei
ng humble does not require a focus away from excellence or achievement, it does require us to avoid egotism, pretension, and arrogance and to ultimately acknowledge that all we have and all that we may become is due to the grace and love that is freely given to us by our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Kindness was a frequent theme of the President/Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, who served from 1995-2008. He asked, “Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others? Why can’t all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us? There is so much of jealousy, pride, arrogance, and carping criticism, racial strife, and even fathers who rise in anger over small, inconsequential things and make wives weep and children fear.”
Exercising appropriate Christ-like attitudes and behaviors of humility and kindness in our homes, with our friends, and in our broader communities would have a profound impact for good. Our world would become such a better place if we could practice these characteristics and find meaningful ways to serve one another.
In the New Testament in Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus Christ teaches about serving others and says, “That Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” A similar statement appears in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 2:17), where King Benjamin writes, “And behold I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
Serving each other and particularly those in poor and needy circumstances would happen with greater frequency if we would simply chose to be obedient to the request and the example that comes from Jesus Christ, i.e. become more humble and kind and find increased opportunities to give and serve.
Another Book of Mormon teaching is appropriate. As was posed by King Benjamin, do we cease withholding our means from the poor and the needy because we see them as having brought their misery upon themselves? Perhaps some have created their own difficulties, but don’t the rest of us do exactly the same thing? That’s why King Benjamin asks, “Are we not all beggars?” (Mosiah 4:19) Quoting Jeffrey Holland, a member of the 12 Apostles of the LDS Church, “Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, and that mercy will triumph over justice, at least in our case? Little wonder that King Benjamin says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we also retain a remission of our sins by compassionately responding to the poor who plead to us.”
It is my fervent prayer that we can all make more concerted efforts to demonstrate obedience to the Savior’s teachings by seeking opportunities to serve each other, with enhanced focus on the poor and the needy, and to do so enthusiastically with attitudes of humility and kindness.
Dr. David E. Brown is regional Director of Public Affairs but was formerly the President of the Napa Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which includes 10 congregations — four in Napa, one in St. Helena, one in Sonoma, two in Vallejo, and two in Benicia.