This coming Sunday, chapter two of the Teachings of George Albert Smith will be studied throughout the LDS Church. This chapter is entitled, “Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself”. There are a number of things that struck me as I read that chapter but the two I would like to focus on are two quotes from President Smith. On p. 11 he is quoted as saying, “I do not have an enemy that I know of, and there is no one in the world that I have any enmity towards.” Then a few pages later we read this quote: “I have only good will in my heart for mankind. I haven’t any animosity in my heart toward any living human being.” (p. 16)
Even making these more striking is seeing when President Smith spoke them – especially the second quote. He said that during General Conference in April, 1946. World War II had ended only the year before. Especially pertinent is the fact that from November 1945 to October 1946 numerous major Nazi figures were on trial in Nuremberg for war crimes. Almost daily there was new evidence of their atrocities – evidence that filled the newspapers. Placing President Smith’s statement that he didn’t have any animosity in his heart toward any living human being against that background makes it even more startling.
I don’t know about you, but I could never make that claim. It’s not good will that fills my heart when someone cuts me off on the freeway. When I hear about people abusing children, my heart is not filled with good will. I have to admit that people don’t even have to give me a good reason for me to think ill of them. I frequently do that unfairly. They didn’t do anything to me but because I was in a bad mood or had a bad day, I lash out at them. There is no way that I can identify with President Smith’s statements.
That’s why I am so thankful that Jesus has not only washed all my sins away but that he also kept the law perfectly for me. Because I could never keep one commandment perfectly. And nobody, not even the president of the LDS Church, can do that. What’s more, nobody, not even the president of the LDS Church, can ever get to the point in this life of doing that. Until the day we die we all will sin – in a great variety of ways.
But what is tragic is that this chapter doesn’t even mention God’s forgiveness of our sins in Christ. Neither does it mention that Jesus is our righteousness. All it does is hold up statements like the above as examples to follow. Or talks about rewards to be earned. “When our life is ended and we return home, we will find credited to us there every good act we have performed, every kindness we have done, every effort we have put forth to benefit our fellows.” (p. 18)
“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31)