Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Merciful Obtain Mercy

Every fourth Sunday we spend an hour at church specifically focusing on a particular sermon/talk given by one of the apostles. Of course the other Sundays and hours (along with other days of the week) are filled with learning and instruction, the center of which is always the doctrine of Christ as taught by the prophets and apostles, ancient and modern. But every fourth Sunday a specific sermon from the most recent General Conference is chosen and we discuss it in depth together. A couple weeks ago, the talk chosen was, "The Merciful Obtain Mercy," given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, apostle and counselor to the the prophet.

I LOVE this talk. Truly it is one of the great sermons on becoming Christlike and full of the charity, the pure love of Christ. The underlying theme of President Uchtdorf's talk came from the words of the sermon taught by Jesus Christ on the mount of beatitudes, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt 5:44). "We simply have to stop judging others," taught President Uchtdorf, "and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children."

A few points that I want to highlight from this talk include the doctrine of forgiveness. President Uchtdorf reminded us of the doctrine behind the need for forgiveness and not judging, saying, "The doctrine is clear. We all depend on the Savior; none of us can be saved without Him. Christ's Atonement is infinite and eternal. Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions. We must repent, and we must be willing to forgive others."

In another part of his talk, President Uchtdorf reminds us that forgiveness includes all men, including forgiving ourselves. "Sometimes, of all the people in the world, the one who is the hardest to forgive--as well as perhaps the one who is most in need of our forgiveness--is the person looking back at us in the mirror."

Another point--and this is one of the reasons I love President Uchtdorf and the other apostles so much is that they are loving and gently corrective when necessary, but they are also direct and to the point at times also--is what he calls a two-word sermon:

"When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

"Stop it!

"It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters."

And as a help to assist us in applying this two-word sermon, President Uchtdorf expounded:

"We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

"Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?"

He goes on to quote a few scriptures and speak about the example and life of the Savior to illustrate the importance of what he was teaching. Another favorite quote from his talk is, "Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive." And then President Uchtdorf summed up his thoughts with this admonition:

"Lay your burden at the Savior's feet. Let go of judgment. Allow Christ's Atonement to change and heal your heart. Love one another. Forgive one another."

Read this talk, pray and ponder to know how you can better become a disciple of Jesus Christ and return good for evil. Remember that we are not perfect and the people around us are not perfect. "But part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord's way."

The merciful will obtain mercy.