Sunday, November 27, 2016

Teach Me All That I Must {Know and} Do, Part 1

As a Primary kid, I grew up singing “I am a Child of God.”  As most people know, President Kimball, in the late 1950s, requested that “Teach me all that I must know” be changed to “Teach me all that I must do.” 

Words are powerful.  And influence us beyond the conscious level.   What is the difference between what I must “know” vs. what I must “do?” What must I know to be reconciled to God?  What must I do?  If I were making a change to the song, I would write: “Teach me all I must know and do to live with Him someday.” 

Teach Me All That I Must Do

Spencer Kimball said, “It is not enough to know.  We must do.”  James would have agreed.  He said, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).

At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew, the Lord finished with this teaching:

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand" (Matthew 7:24, 26). 

Again, there is an emphasis from the Lord on “doing.”  It seems sort of obvious, but I think it’s important to note that first we must “hear” his word before we can do it.

As Joseph Smith taught:

“Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God” (in History of the Church, 3:379).

From “hearing” we learn God’s word and God’s will.  From “doing,” we exercise faith in that word. 

So what is it that we “must do to live with Him someday”?

As I read through the different accounts of the Sermon on the Mount, I realized that the Savior's teachings and list of commandments really can be summarized by the two great commandments:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). 

As followers of Christ, we must be doers of the word, but our to-do list is rather short:

·               Love God
·               Love man

Sounds easy enough, right?  Well just in case we don’t fully understand what’s involved in keeping these two commandments, the Lord includes some specifics in the Sermon on the Mount that help us understand how much we need to overcome in order to live these laws.  Here are some examples of what loving God and loving our fellowman might look like in every day application:

Agree with your adversary
Don’t get angry
Love your enemies
Do good to those who hate you
Don’t lust
Resist not evil
Don’t divorce your wife (or husband)
Give to those who ask
Judge not
Pray for those that use you and persecute you
Be meek
Be submissive
Be peacemakers
Be merciful
Be pure in heart
Hunger and thirst after righteousness
Be quick to reconcile
Give alms secretly
Pray earnestly, in secret
Trust in God
Seek the kingdom of God

No wonder Moroni counsels us to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (Moroni 7:48).  We need God’s help to do what He’s asked us to do.  But what is the alternative?  Moroni says that without charity we are nothing (Moroni 7:44). And with it, we have true joy and incredible promises from the Lord: 

“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (D&C 121:45-46).

We must be doers of the word.  And the word is Christ.  And Christ is love.  What must we do?  We must learn to love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength.  We must love our neighbors as ourselves.  What I must do is become a new creature, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, with charity towards all men.  I must do what He asks me to because I love Him more than anything else.