Happy Mother's day everyone, sorry it is a day late, but Mother's are the greatest thing in the world. Things here in Ohio have moved up to the 70's and 80's which is fantastic, much better than a polar vortex anyway. As I have been reviewing this past week and thinking about what experiences I would like to relate in this report one incident stuck out in my mind more than any. This Saturday we were out tracting and we got a call from our amazing Bishop WIlkerson and he asked us if we could come with him right now to an emergency appointment. As Elder Black once explained to me "When a Bishop asks you to do something your only response should be 'we'll get right on it'." We of course assented, and 10 minutes later we were in the Bishop's car en route to a less active sister who has been struggling for quite a while. As we got there we greeted her and sat out on her porch and talked for a couple of minutes then she broke down crying and began telling us about many of the storms of life she had been facing. One of the biggest challenges she was facing in getting reactivated was that a certain sister, who held a rather prominent position in the church, had been very judgmental, mocking, and disparaging to her, and had retold many of her judgments to other persons in the ward. To some of those who are rather familiar with my past know that I have a very strong opinion on the matter of judging and ridiculing from those who have sworn to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ, who call themselves Saints. As this sister was talking to us it recalled to my mind an excerpt from Joseph Smith History wherein describing the treatment he received following the first vision "being persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me" Why is it those of us who have been called to the holy work of the ministry, and all those who have been baptized and brought into the House of Israel have been called into that work, can feel at ease with passing judgments on those who Christ has asked us to bring back into the fold. Did our Master not say "judge not that ye be not judged" (Matt 7:1) every person we meet every day has a story they have a million things that have happened to them before we come in contact with them and they will have a million things happen to them after we see them. Yet only Christ alone knows what they have been through only Christ alone has walked the exact same path that they have, Christ alone knows the thoughts of their heart and the true nature of their character. Why then do we feel secure in passing on judgement on those of our fellow travelers through life when we are all struggling with our own burdens. As the Lord said "Thou hypocrite first cast out the beam out of thine own eye" (Matt 7:5) Their can be only one thing at the heart of judging others and that is pride, pride is the antithesis of charity, pride is the delusional belief that some how you are superior to another person on this earth, it is a damning sin and for those who have any shred of pride in them at the last day will be cast out into outer darkness where there is weeping and waling and gnashing of teeth.
The good news is that the Lord has given us away to overcome the damning effects of pride, he has provided means that we may change our characters that we may strip ourselves of pride and become full of charity. That is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Christ felt every person on this earth was important enough to atone for. Our Redeemer didn't say I will pay the price for Jeffery's sins but not for Donald's, He didn't pick and choose who was worth trying to bring back into Heaven and who wasn't, the Holy One of Israel paid an infinite price for every last one of us because every person that ever has been borne or ever will be born was important enough to the Great Mediator to try and bring back to Heaven. So next time you are called to pass judgement on another, next time you begin to open your mouth to criticize and condemn another's actions. Stop, think your Savior sweating blood in Gethsemane for that persons soul, think of the nails that were driven through his hands and feet for their transgressions. Then ask yourself how many drops of blood the Saviour has shed for you? When you want to hold a grudge remember the King who when suffering on the cross cried out "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" remember that it was because of you he was on that cross. I think too often we Christians think of the blessings that we receive from the Atonement without thinking about as well the price that was paid, that price that we incurred on the Savior for our mistakes and stupid decisions. The Lord lives he loves us he knows everyone of us perfectly and completely from the homeless man on the street to the CEO of Blue Ocean, he loves us. He would do anything for us, and has done everything, his only request is that we love one another as he loved us. Christ lived, he died, but most importantly he was resurrected. I know that with all my heart that he still lives and because of that we will all one day be brought before his judgement bar and will be asked how we treated a poor wayfaring man of grief. I testify in the name of Jesus Christ amen.