We Can Be More Neighborly

by Marjorie Meyer

July 29, 2000

The thoughts I would like to share tonight are found on page 14 of the May 13, 2000 edition of the “Church News,” and focus on our individual character development, from an article entitled: “We Can Be More Neighborly.”

In April 1992, Elder L. Tom Perry reminded members of the urgent need for full-time missionaries: “May you decide, as Alma did, to go forth among the people preaching the word of God unto them to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, to pull down the pride, craftiness and contentions among them, that they may be reclaimed and saved by you in bearing down in pure testimony to them.”

To “…stir them up in remembrance of their duty, to pull down the pride, craftiness and contentions among them, that they may be reclaimed…” Normally we would say that he is referring to “non-members,” right? Well, read on.

The article entitled, “We Can Be More Neighborly” reads:

“A cycle of righteousness to iniquity was common among the Nephites. One prime example is found in Alma 4:5-6, when this cycle occurred within one year. This iniquity and their persecution of “those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure” led to their being a “great stumbling block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.” (Alma 4: 8, 10)

“In fact, it became so bad that “the example of the church began to lead those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another, thus bringing on the destruction of the people.” (v. 11)

[Maybe some of those missionaries Elder Perry said are so greatly needed are to help the members retain or regain their grasp of the iron rod–ever think about it? What can you personally do to help someone hold to the iron rod?]

He wrote, “Members today can avoid placing a “stumbling-block” in the paths of others by following gospel principles.”

[Shall we read that again?]

“Members today can avoid placing a “stumbling-block” in the paths of others by following gospel principles.”

[I believe this statement refers not only to those not of our faith, but also in very fact to the membership of the Church. We have a very real responsibility to be our brothers’ keepers. The Lord has asked us, personally and directly, to avoid placing a stumbling block by our improper behavior in the paths of others, members and non-members alike! May the Lord bless us to more fully realize that, and to act upon it].

“President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled during the April 2000 general conference: “Let us as Latter-day Saints reach out to others not of our faith. Let us never act in a spirit of arrogance or with a holier-than-thou attitude.”

[He didn’t say, but this also could read: “Let us as Latter-day Saints reach out to those of our own faith. Let us never act in a spirit of arrogance or with a holier-than-thou attitude”].

Sometimes we have the tendency to think that if we are nice to non-members we have done our duty, and that our fellow church members have no need of our care or notice. But little do we know how much our actions can truly impact those who are faithful in the kingdom, either for good or for ill. We must reach out to the faithful, and to the struggling members, as well. Remember that there may be some who are deeply struggling, but do not appear to be so. Our help may be required at a very vulnerable point in time for them. Will we be in the right path, and able to help, and not place a stumbling block?

“Rather,” President Hinckley continued, “may we show love and respect and helpfulness toward them.” [I would add, may we show love and respect and helpfulness toward our non-member friends, as well as toward our fellow church members].

He said, “We are greatly misunderstood” [when I first read this I thought it was our doctrine that was misunderstood], “and,” he said (nota bene), “I fear that much of it is our own making.”

This statement ( “I fear that much of it is our own making”) is the key to what he is saying. Insert here the scripture: “By this shall all men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Think on that one for a while.

The prophet is not saying that it is our doctrine that causes us to be misunderstood; he is saying that it is our behavior that causes us to be misunderstood.

He is referring to our failure to live up to that divine commandment and promise that our lives will testify to others that we are Christ’s disciples if we have love one to another. Because we are not kind enough one to one another, the Prophet of God is telling us (oh, so

tenderly!) that we are misunderstood–not recognized as being Christians. We are not being sufficiently filled with love that will cause others to recognize us as Christ’s disciples. We are a stumbling block.

This situation can change, though, through individual effort. And we do need to pay tribute to the many acts of kindness and good will that so many perform so well, with love in their hearts.

President Hinckley taught: “We can be more tolerant, more neighborly, more friendly, more of an example than we have been in the past. Let us teach our children to treat others with friendship, respect, love, and admiration.”

Please remember, that for us to truly be following the Lord, these attitudes are not only to be cultivated toward ‘future members’ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but importantly, toward current members also.

Yes, we can and must be more kind toward one another. The words to a primary song state: “Kindness begins with me”. If Primary children can learn that simple and profound truth, surely we as their parents can also.

Ponder for a moment on the idea that (as we know) the Law of Tithing is a precursor to the Law of Consecration, a preparatory law which requires only one tenth of us at present, when in the future one hundred percent will be required.

A prophet of God has just asked us to be “more tolerant, more neighborly, more friendly, and more of an example.” As a precursor to fully living the Law of Charity, without which we are nothing, and without which we cannot be saved, are we willing to live what is in actuality a lesser law: simply being tolerant, neighborly, and friendly?

The Webster’s 1913 dictionary defines “neighborly” (Page: 969) as: Neigh”bor*ly, a. [Also written neighbourly.] Appropriate to the relation of neighbors; having frequent or familiar intercourse; kind; civil; social; friendly. — adv. In a neighborly manner. “Judge if this be neighborly dealing.”

The definition for “friendly” is as follows: (Page: 596) Friend”ly, a. 1. Having the temper and disposition of a friend; disposed to promote the good of another; kind; favorable. 2. Appropriate to, or implying, friendship; befitting friends; amicable. 3. Not hostile; as, a friendly power or state. 4. Promoting the good of any person; favorable; propitious; serviceable.

In this coming week, let us all “judge if this be neighborly dealing.” Let us seek to promote the good of our fellow beings who sojourn with us upon the earth, let us be kind and civil to one another–our “ten percent tithe” of Christ-like character. Let us prepare to live the coming Law of Charity, which will require of us so much more, even one hundred percent love. May our examples be in accordance with what we have been taught.

Courage!

Marji