Jesus was different. While most of us are impressed by a person’s prominence, Jesus was impressed by their humility and compassion.
While most of us fret about our social standing, Jesus ignored the social rules by talking with a Samaritan woman, advocating for a sinful woman, and befriending publicans and sinners.
Jesus upended the hierarchy. He did not say blessed are those in positions of power, those who control big budgets, and command thousands of workers. No. He blessed the poor in spirit, those that mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.
Jesus was different. And He asks that we be different.
Recently, our son and daughter invited us to join them on a trip to Thailand. At one of the crowded night markets, Nancy observed a gentle Thai woman trying to sell doughnuts. Where most booths were crowded, hers was empty. She had a sweet smile but seemed lonely. Nancy had a sudden craving for doughnuts. We bought several and enjoyed the seller’s kind ways. We could not speak Thai, but Nancy speaks hugs very fluently. There were hundreds of booths at the market. Yet only two interested Nancy—the gentle lady selling doughnuts and a tired, older woman selling small bags of cashews. We bought several bags. We passed the discount sneakers and the fried insects. As we explored many booths, we were haunted by the doughnut lady. We decided we needed more doughnuts, another hug, and a picture of a little woman who now feels like a friend.
I’m quite sure that, when we are willing to bless God’s children, He will put an opportunity right in our paths. When blessing God’s struggling children matters to us more than anything else, we have understood His teachings.
Our common concerns are about income, promotions, investments, and retirement funds. Jesus recommended a different focus. Imagine Jesus sitting face-to-face with you and teaching you the following:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (Matthew 6:24, 28-31).
We commonly treat Jesus’ counsel as uplifting poetry. But what if He really means it? What if we stopped fretting about our clothing and our food and focused on trusting God?
I’m pretty sure He would still have us buy groceries and get dressed. But what if we turned our attention from concerns about our wardrobe and diet to honoring His name and serving His children?
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:25-26
As we fret about the ridiculous price of mayonnaise and the fluctuating cost of gasoline, we may forget God’s children who are hungry almost every day of their lives and can never hope to own a car.
We should use any power that we have to bless God’s children. He invites us each to serve in the ways that best use our gifts, minister to our growth, and bless other people. He invites us to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (Doctrine & Covenants 81:5).
Recently I invited Facebook friends and Meridian readers to help a Syrian refugee family in need—a family we love dearly. I hoped we might raise a few hundred dollars to replace a week’s salary of a father with Covid who was unable to work while he was sick and did not know how his family would survive without that income. Kind people responded generously! They donated enough money to cover his lost salary and help his wife prepare for a business of cooking and selling Syrian food. That dear family still faces immense challenges since the father has herniated disks that are aggravated by his work. But the kindness of disciples has blessed their family and warmed our hearts. I feel sure that angels are rejoicing with us.
We tend to worry about power, property, and prosperity. Jesus was focused on goodness. Fill ourselves with His word. Notice the needs around us. Be mindful of those beyond our view. Find ways to bless.
That is the stuff Jesus would have us focus on.
Invitation: If you are interested in applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the challenges of marriage, please join us in our next marriage retreat Create a Better Marriage Using Jesus’ Principles on February 10. Attendance is limited to about a dozen couples. The one-day experience in Alpine, Utah costs $199 per couple. Scholarships are available. To register, see the link at DrWally.comMarriage Retreats – Dr. Wally Goddard (drwally.com): Worried About the Wrong Things