1. Never label any particular “race” of people as being stupid, ignorant, or bigoted. Stupidity, ignorance, and bigotry comes in all shades.
2. “Race” is a man-made term used to divide groups of people and often to build walls of division, derision, degradation, belittlement, and even hatred.
3. Accept all people for whom God created them to be, and always try to build bridges of hope, love, peace, and understanding.
4. To judge a person by the color of his or her skin is to prove your level of misguided ignorance, and not necessarily your level of intelligence. Intelligent people do not allow the color of a person’s skin to create walls of division, but rather they work together, regardless of “race,” to build bridges of hope, love, peace, and understanding.
5. Never make rash and hasty decisions or opinions about any person until you have tried to walk a mile in his or her shoes, and have strived to make some effort to at least understand what makes him or her who they are. In other words, at least try to view the world through their eyes and not always your own.
6. Never be quick to criticize another person, or quick to point out their shortcomings and faults, unless you have seriously taken the time to look carefully at the individual who looks back at you in your mirror and can honestly declare that person whom you see as being “perfect.”
7. Judge no person by the color of his or her skin, but only by the content of his or her character. The color of the skin has nothing to do with intelligence levels or anything else for that matter.
8. Be quick to show love, patience, and understanding, and slow and careful to despise or reject another because of supposed differences. Strive to find the commonalities that can bind you as brothers and sisters, and focus less on the differences that supposedly cause division between you.
9. Treat all humanity as persons of dignity and self-worth, and strive to eradicate the words “hate” and “hatred” from your vocabularies. For to hate another often, in turn, leads to more hatred, which eventually leads to a bloody battlefield of contention and strife. Always remember, hatred only begets more hatred. We need not be at war with one another, but should try to find ways to live together as brothers and sisters.
10. Those who are incessant to use the “race” card for every situation, or to judge another person according to the color of his or her skin or “race” are in and of themselves racist and bigots regardless of the color of their skin. Beware of being numbered among their ranks.
We Are All Special in His Sight
There is not one person on this earth who is any less important, or any less special than another. We are all children of the same Heavenly Father whose immense love for each of us is incomparable to any other love that we will ever experience in this mortal life. His vicarious atonement was not just for the “special” one, nor the select few, but rather, He willingly suffered and gave His life as a ransom for all humanity.
God does not care about the color of our skin. He does not care about our social status. Nor does He care about the amount of material possessions that we have amassed in this life, or how much material wealth we have accumulated. When He looks upon us, He sees His sons and daughters, and although we are imperfect, He still loves each of us equally and unconditionally. He does not categorize us according to race, culture, life style, religious beliefs, or any type of caste system. Everyone is special and of equal importance in His eyes. That means that the person who lives alone in a shack in the lowest of valleys is of no less importance than the person who lives in an extravagant mansion on the hillside with a view of majestic mountains.
It does not matter if we are Black, White, Native American, of whatever race or culture, slave, free, Jew, or Gentile. What does matter is that each of us matter to Him. God is no respecter of persons, and if we profess to love God and that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot be a respecter of persons either.
Let us always be quick to love and slow to judge any of our brothers and sisters. Be thou wise O’ man to never put thyself above others, or to judge another unjustly, For pride and haughtiness often lead to a great fall, and the judgments that we meet to others, may well be the same judgments that one day will leave ourselves being weighed in the balances.
The word “Christian” literally means “Christ Like.” Therefore, a person who calls himself a Christian should exhibit Christ like characteristics both in their personal life as well as in the way they deal with their fellowman. Being a Christian is more than just going to Church on Sunday. It is an every day way of life. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of a Christian.
A “Christian” is a person who is in Christ, his sins are forgiven, and his guilt is gone. He is a new creature. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Christ lives within the surrendered Christian, cleansing and filling him with His Divine love. He is there to lead, guide, protect, and direct the footsteps of the Christian. He has already marked the pathway that the Christian must follow and He will give him the strength to endure all trials and to serve Him faithfully. In Philippians 4:13 we read, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The desire of every Christian should be to act as Christ would act, to do the things that He would do, and to speak the words that He would speak. In any situation that the Christian finds himself in, he should pause and ask himself the question, “What would Christ do in this situation?” Christ is our Great Exemplar. In 1 Peter 2:21 we read, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” If we would learn to follow the Master’s example, we should be triumphant in every situation that we encounter in life. We learn of Christ’s example and become more like Him by reading the Scriptures daily, praying often, and treating others with kindness and compassion.
The Christian is for Christ as a good soldier is for his country. A Christian is willing to stand up for what he believes no matter how great the adversity. He is willing to endure afflictions and persecutions for Chrsit. The Christian should be ready at all times to share his testimony with others and to give his time, talents and treasures for Him. In 1 Peter 3:15-17 we read:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
Here and now and forever more, the Lord is with the Christian. He has promised that He would never leave nor forsake His own. Hereafter, with Christ, there will be no burdens, no trials, no suffering. The Christian shall forever be with the Lord. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 we read, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Key Verse: Psalm 90:12
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Good morning class and welcome to Spiritual Mathematics 101. What is Spiritual Mathematics? Simply put it is taking those basic math skills of subtraction, division, addition, and multiplication that we learned in our early school days and applying those concepts to our spiritual growth process.
Let us begin by examining the basic principle of subtraction. Even small children understand basic mathematical equations such as two take away two leaves zero. Just as the basic skill of subtraction is taught and learned early in life, the principle of Christ’s forgiveness should also be learned early in life. Christ “takes away” the sins of those who repent and believe on Him. We can express this basic principle with the simple mathematical equation: Repentance – Sin = Forgiveness. In 1 John 3:5 we read, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin.”
Next, we will examine the basic principle of division. In Isaiah 53:12 we read, “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Christ is our Great Exemplar. He gave Himself for us, dividing a portion with the great. As Christians, we are to follow His example. In 1 John 2:6 we read, “He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” We should be willing to divide our time, talent, testimony, and treasure for the furtherance of the work of the ministry.
The basic premise behind the principle of addition is that the way to gain more of something is to add to that something. For example, if a child has one apple and then a friend gives him another apple, he now has one more apple than he originally started with or two apples. We are to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ by adding, or increasing in the fruits and virtues of the Spirit. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 we are taught, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” We begin with faith and end with love. We can express this idea with the mathematical equation: Faith + Virtue + Knowledge + Temperance + Patience + Godliness + Brotherly Kindness + Charity [the pure love of Christ] = Growth in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Adding these fruits of the Spirit to our life will settle, establish, and strengthen us as Christians.
Finally, let us examine the basic principle of multiplication. Some people seem to have difficulty with multiplication tables. Multiplication is nothing more than repeated addition. It is fascinating to observe the great increase that multiplication brings. For example, if you have some good news to share with a lot of people, start out by telling a couple of your closest friends. It is almost guaranteed that each of those friends will tell a couple of their close friends, and so on and so forth until the news is spread over a large area. Christ wants the number of His disciples to be increased. This is done through our missionary efforts of sharing the Gospel and bringing others unto Him. As we do this we will receive multiplied blessings (see Jude 1:2).
I humbly believe that there are many good hearten people who are equating love for their brothers and sisters to mean acceptance of lifestyle or behavior. I can love my brothers and sisters (as I am commanded to do), but that does not necessarily mean that I accept their actions and behaviors. They, like myself, have their free agency, and are free to choose their path in life. You will not get any argument from me on that matter. Therefore, I refuse to hate, demean, belittle, degrade, or even condemn any of my brothers and sisters to hell as it were because of their life choices and decisions. I do not claim, nor will I purport to be their judge or jury. Regardless of the path that any of my brothers and sisters choose to follow, I echo the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “I choose to love, because hate is too great a burden to bear.”
I do not pretend to know the heart of another person. I have enough to do to make sure that my heart is in the right place. I do not pretend to understand the life of another person or the choices that he or she makes. I have enough to do to make sure that I keep my life in order, make the right choices, and stay on the right path.
Therefore, I cannot justify trying to clean out the corners in somebody’s house, when there are cobwebs in my own that perhaps need cleaning out. Let us remember that we are all imperfect people in need of a perfect Savior. Let us not fall into the trap of judging other people because we feel that the size of their sin is perhaps greater than our own sin, or because we do not practice certain behaviors, we somehow feel that we are better or superior to others.
Now, there will be some who will argue, “By loving your brothers and sisters regardless of their lifestyle and choices in life, aren’t you really condoning their behaviors and conforming to the world?” The short answer is a resounding NO! Love is compassion. It is not conforming to anything. I can have compassion for someone, help and support him or her as one of my brothers and sisters in any way I can without accepting those things which are contrary to my own personal believes and morals.
I guess what I am saying is that we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. The truth of the matter is that all of our neighbors do not live by the same morals, standards, or believes that we do, but that does not give us a poetic license to shun them, hate them, or treat them as societal outcast. Through our love and compassion we are demonstrating how we can be in the world, but not of the world.
We need to stop always focusing on the negative aspects, and start focusing on the good in people. We need to try to build more bridges of hope and understanding, instead of adding mortar and brick to walls of division, contention, and strife.
Dear friends, all the bickering, arguing, and hatred needs to stop!
I sometimes feel that the biggest problems in the world today, especially among those in the Christian community, is that there is too much time and effort spent on criticizing, condemning, and judging other people because of their differences, and very little time, if any, spent on focusing on some of the commonalities that should unite us as brothers and sisters.
It is a wonderful thing that we have strong testimonies, but those testimonies do not make us any more holy or righteous than anyone else. What good is a strong testimony if that testimony does not somehow incorporate not only a sincere love for the Savior Himself, but also for all of His children – all of our brothers and sisters regardless of race, gender, background, culture, and YES, even sexual orientation?
The Savior Himself taught, “By this shall all know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Furthermore, let us not forget that the scriptures emphatically teach us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1,2). James also teaches us:
Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (James 4:11,12).
Therefore, the question before us is, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
Love will always conquer more than tenacious judgment and pernicious condemnation of others ever will. We are not commanded to agree with a person’s beliefs or accept their doctrines, principles, or teachings about how we should live our lives. Furthermore, we are not commanded to accept another person’s lifestyle. However, we are commanded to love one another.
How can we honestly say that we love God, but hold malice, animosity, or indifference in our hearts towards our brothers and sisters because they hold different beliefs, or because they live a different lifestyle than our own? Are we so perfect ourselves that we can sit as judges of all Israel? Let us also be reminded that, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). If it were not for the love, grace, and mercy of the Lord, we who are quick to judge another would be in no better place than the one or ones whom we judge.
If we as Christians claim that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, then let us strive to meet together on common ground instead of on battle fields of hatred, blind mistrust, and misunderstanding, and show more love and compassion for ALL of our brothers and sisters. There is only one TRUE GOD and He is the Father of us ALL, and He loves us ALL equally and unconditionally.
When we finally begin to realize that the walls that seem to divide us are artificial and not God-made, and as we begin to dismantle those walls brick by brick instead of continuing to add mortar and more bricks to reinforce those walls, that will be the day when we will be able to sit down together at the banqueting table of brotherhood and sisterhood and live in peace and harmony with one another. That will be the day when we will truly understand what it means to love one another.
~ Keith Lionel Brown
15 April 2015
Throughout the course of my life, I have been devalued by many people, including my own parents, and to this day I continue to devalue not only myself, but others as well. I have come to realize that I am in no place to devalue myself, let alone others, for we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.
It is clear that discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation has all but become common place in our nation today. However, the fact remains that God is a God of inclusivity and not exclusivity, and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him.
Just because a person may not fit into the mold of what we or society may believe as “normal,” it does not give us a poetic license to devalue that person. Likewise, if our opinions differ from that of another person, we should not devalue that person and make them feel as though they are inferior or that their opinions are inconsequential.
It amazes me that some people who profess that they are followers of Jesus Christ, are some of the worse offenders of devaluing people. For example, let us examine the account of the woman who was found guilty of adultery as recorded in John 8:3-7:
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
The account goes on to tell us that after the Master had given His response, those who would otherwise be this woman’s accusers, drop their stones and went their way realizing that because of the conviction in their own sinful hearts, they were in no place to devalue another. With no one but Himself and the woman remaining, He turns to her and asks, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10). In modern-day vernacular, the question might be asked, “Where are those who have attempted to devalue you? Where have they gone?”
We must spend our lives edifying people instead of being quick to devalue them. Every person is a child of God. Thus, they deserve to be treated with self-worth, respect, and human dignity. We should be more inclusive and less exclusive in our thinking and treatment of others. We should heed the words spoken by the Master. Said He, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2). If we are not careful, we may just find that our exclusivity might exclude ourselves from the Kingdom of God.
Karlyn Kay Stebbins
10 April 2015
Karlyn Kay Stebbins’ Biography:
I have a double major in sociology and psychology and a minor in communications. I was before a licensed addictions counselor in a treatment center up until recently. Due to a drastic series of some life-changing events, I now live in Hawaii and I am going back to school for my master degree in sociology.
I am a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter day Saints and have been a member since 26 March 2011.
My interests are furthering my education and spending time with my partner and her friends and eventually becoming active in the LGBT Community here in Hawaii, and doing some addictions counseling work within that Community. I love to read, write, and hang out at the beach.
There are people in this world who seem to make it their life’s mission to continually fan the ever glowing embers of ignorance and hatred. When one little spark from those embers ignites into a flame, they will continually fan that flame until it turns into a raging inferno. Once the inferno is raging, they will try to keep it ever-burning by incessantly dowsing it with the gasoline of unrelenting ignorance and hatred. In time if someone does not combat the fire, and try to bring it under control, it will eventually destroy lives and livelihoods.
It proves of no sound purpose to ever retaliate against ignorance and hatred with more of the same. Hatred only begets more hatred, and ignorance only begets more ignorance. The result only leads to a blood stained battlefield populated by all too often innocent victims, many of whom never know or understand why they ever became a “soldier” in the proverbial battle. They only know that it seemed like the right thing to do then, but they never stopped to question the validity or justification for the proverbial battle cry.
We need more “firefighters” in this world, and fewer people who continually start fires, oftentimes for unclear or nonsensical reasons. Once a fire has gotten out of control, the only way to bring it back under control is to repeatedly douse it with a solid stream of the cool healing waters of brotherly love and compassion, and completely smother any remaining glowing embers with a blanket of human dignity, self-worth, and patient love.
Sometimes we cannot see the proverbial forest because of the trees that impair our vision. We sometimes exert our energy in concentrating on what makes us different and fail to recognize the commonalities which should help to unite us as brothers and sisters. We may not agree on everything, but our differences should not cause us to become bitter and mortal enemies, but rather friends who are willing to live together, learn from one another, and most of all love one another.
However, let us be ever mindful that if we want to have friends in this life, we must first prove ourselves as being friendly. If we want to live at peace with those who would otherwise seemingly be our enemies, then we must not show hostility and malice towards others. If we want that people trust us, then we must prove to them that we are trustworthy. To live at peace in this world requires the efforts of many, not just the few or the one.
Let us also be mindful that respect is a reciprocated process. We cannot and should not expect others to support us and give us due respect when we at every turn find ways to undermine, demean, embarrass, or utterly disrespect them. If we want people to respect us, we must FIRST learn to respect others.
I humbly pray that I shall never be faced with the decision as to which people to love for I strive to live at peace with all men and have a heart’s desire to love everyone as my brother and sister. No barriers, artificial or otherwise, can nor should separate us because we can all share a common blanket of love. It is our love for one another that unites us and strengthens us.
Regardless of our race, regardless if we are rich or poor, regardless of our occupation and station in life, we are all brothers and sisters. We are all members of The Royal Family with a Father who loves each of us equally and unconditionally. It is impossible for a man to say that he loves his Father, but yet holds malice and ill will towards one of his brothers or sisters. If we say we love our Father, we must love ALL of our brothers and sisters as well.
No, we cannot fight fire with fire, but all of us can do our part to help extinguish any fires by drowning them out in an ocean of love.