Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

How Can We Avoid Being Hypocrites?

My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Matthew 11-12 and Luke 11 and a lesson titled “I Will Give You Rest.” The lesson was receded with the following counsel from President Dallin H. Oaks: “The scriptures, which are the revelations of the past, cannot be understood without the openness to the revelations of the present…. A study of the scriptures enables men and women to receive revelations” (“Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 7). The lesson was then introduced with the following information:

In many ways, the Pharisees and scribes had made worshipping Jehovah burdensome. They often emphasized strict rules over eternal truths. Rules about the Sabbath day, which was meant to be a day of rest, were themselves a heavy burden.

And then, Jehovah Himself came among His people. He taught them that the true purpose of religion is not to create burdens but to relieve them. He taught that God gives us commandments, including the one to honor the Sabbath, not to oppress us but to bless us. Yes, the way to God is strait and narrow, but the Lord came to announce that we need not walk it alone. “Come unto me,” He pleaded. His invitation, to all who feel “heavy laden” for any reason, is to stand beside Him, to bind ourselves to Him, and to let Him share our burdens. His promise is “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Compared to the alternatives – trying to carry on alone or relying on mortal solutions – His “yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30.)

As the scripture blocks for the lessons contain too many principles to discuss in one blog post, I feel prompted to write on a principle found in Matthew 12:34-37 and Luke 11:33-44: “My words and actions reflect what is in my heart.” The Savior often criticized the Pharisees as trying to appear righteous while having impure intentions. First, we will look at what the scriptures say, with the account given in Mathew 12:34-37 first.

34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

In Luke 11:33-44, Jesus Christ charges the Pharisees of acting with great hypocrisy in several ways.

37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.

38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.

39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

We can understand from the two scripture blocks that Jesus Christ does not approve of people who pretend to be righteous but are not righteous in their hearts. The Savior’s words in Matthew 12:34 are “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The most important place for us to be our real selves is in our homes. Our children hear our words and see our behaviors. If we speak and behave differently at home than we do in the community, our children will know the difference. We must learn to communicate with honesty and integrity.

When we practice effective communication, we are more able to enjoy the company of other people, share our own thoughts and feelings, and strengthen relationships with love and commitment. Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about family relationships:

To be effective, family communication must be an exchange of feelings and information. Doors of communication will swing open in the home if members will realize time and participation on the part of all are necessary ingredients. In family discussions, differences should not be ignored, but should be weighed and evaluated calmly. One’s point or opinion usually is not as important as a healthy, continuing relationship. Courtesy and respect in listening and responding during discussions are basic in proper dialogue. As we learn to participate together in meaningful associations, we are able to convey our thoughts of love, dependence, and interest. When we are inclined to give up in despair in our efforts to communicate because other family members have failed to respond, perhaps we would do well not to give up, but rather to give and take in our conversations. How important it is to know how to disagree with another’s point of view without being disagreeable. How important it is to have discussion periods ahead of decisions. Jones Stephens wrote, “I have learned that the head does not hear anything until the heart has listened, and that what the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow.” (“Family Communication,” Ensign, May 1976). 

Later in the talk, Elder Ashton taught: “If we would know true love and understanding one for another, we must realize that communication is more than a sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings, and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally. It is the sharing of oneself totally” (Ensign, May 1976, 52). 

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