Growing up I’ve had an intense focus on trying to do what is right. Over time I’ve gained a strong sense of confidence in my goodness and righteous desires. I have come to know deep down that I honestly want to do what’s right.
However, I haven’t always had this confidence in others…
Seeing all the evil displayed on television, hearing about all the crimes committed, and seeing others living a lower standard of moral living has led me to doubt the goodness of others, even some within the restored Church.
However, my negative perceptions have changed in recent months. I now am astonished at how many AMAZING, GOOD and CONSECRATED people there are in the world!
Let me tell you how my view of people in general became more positive.
Becoming Amazed at the Goodness of Others
Over the past several months I’ve been blessed to hear the testimonies of dozens of returned missionaries and converts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for our Mission Prep project. In doing so, I’ve heard amazing stories – times when God saved people from death, and miracles when faith was exercised and people were healed through Priesthood power. I’ve heard testimonies of such conviction that afterward I couldn’t help but kneel and offer a prayer of gratitude for having had the opportunity to hear such a powerful testimony.
It’s been amazing to see dozens of people share their testimonies and hear their strong convictions. I’ve been amazed how even people I wouldn’t have thought had a strong testimony (from my first impression of them), have demonstrated amazing faith and commitment to the Lord.
On many occasions I’ve been proven wrong in my negative assumptions about others.
Through hearing the testimonies of others, I’ve learned a few lessons.
Lessons I’ve learned about others
- Most people have righteous desires. Though some people want to do evil things, I believe the vast majority of people are trying to do what’s right.
- Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Just because I’m with myself 24/7 and am intimately aware of my personal efforts and growth, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t others trying and growing just as much, if not more than me. It’s been wonderful and humbling to recognize my own personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of others.
- I shouldn’t judge people based on my first impressions of them. Time and time again, I’ve been surprised by the wonderful conviction and testimony of others. It’s not our role to judge others, plus we’re usually not that good at it anyway :).
For any of you who might be tempted to have a pessimistic outlook on people, I invite you to change your perspective.
I’ve found the best way to grow my confidence in the goodness of others is to talk about spiritual subjects with them and ask them to share their innermost yearnings. When a testimony is shared, the receptive listener and the speaker are brought closer together in the unity of the faith (see Ephesians 4:13).
Amid the six-plus billion people in the world, I’m convinced that there are millions of people striving to be obedient to God. In most communities there are people who inspire others all around them with their goodness.
Although there is great darkness in the world, there is also great goodness in the hearts of many people in the world. To see the goodness in others, have them share their testimony with you. Listening to others’ testimonies has increased my confidence in the goodness of others and can do the same for you.
Whenever we refuse to forgive and forget the trespasses that a brother or sister have committed against us, and constantly remind them of their wrongdoings and misdeeds, we in essence label them as prisoners of their past who have no hope of ever having the prison door unlocked and being set free.
Because we insist on holding a brother or sister in condemnation for the wrongs that they may have committed, we are in effect saying to them that the grace of God is not sufficient to wash away their sins even though they have already repented of their misdeeds and have asked for forgiveness. We are saying to them that there is no love or mercy that could ever be extended to them. Most importantly, when we continue to re-live the wrongs that have been committed by a brother or sister, and refuse to allow them to bury their past and move on, we are sending them a message that even the blessings of the atonement are not meant for them – the Lord Jesus Christ shed his precious blood and was crucified on that cruel Roman cross on Golgotha’s lonely hill for everyone else, but not for them.
Are we so holy and so righteous that we can even begin to sit in judgment upon another? While we are busy gathering stones to cast at our brother or sister, perhaps we need to take a step back and examine our own lives a little more closely, and then decide if we should be casting any stones, or perhaps those stones which we have already gathered should be heaped upon ourselves.
If God has forgiven each of us in all of our sins and trespasses, who are we not to forgive those who sin or trespass against us, and to let those trespasses be forever forgotten? When I think about the goodness of God and all that He has done for me in my short lifetime, personally I find that I have no stones to throw at anyone. And so, my dear brothers and sisters of the jury, I put the question before you to decide at this hour as you deliberate your verdict – who among YOU will cast the first stone?
Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”
Doctrine and Covenants 64:10 – “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”