One of my favorite things about scripture is the way it answers modern-day questions and situations. The word of God is just as relevant today as when it was written. Today I’ll be using the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians to answer some scenarios that modern-day Christians experience.
I teach the weekly Gospel Doctrine class to a wonderful group of (mostly) very experienced church members, who have amazing testimonies and understanding of truth. So this happens but rarely, but we’ve all been in a class where the topic gets derailed by a squabble over a small detail. This small, petty matter can take over the weightier matter that is supposed to be discussed, and can cause contention to enter in and the Spirit of God to leave.
Be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, or one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phil.2:2-3)
In other words, it is much more important that we think of others in the conversation than that we vainly make sure our own point is driven home. Isn’t this the key to all relationships?
Standing on your own testimony
When kids are young, and youth as well, they often rely on the testimony of their parents and/or church leaders. Paul dealt with this in his “young” converts, yet he knew they had to grow to stand on their own when he left them alone. His letter encouraged them thus:
As ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13)
It is God that helps both our will (our desires) and our actions. A person’s relationship should be first and foremost with God, not with any man. We must teach our children to seek their own witness of truth, “that ye may be blameless and harmless…in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:15)
Don’t look back
It is hard to join a new faith, to leave behind cultural and family traditions. It was hard for Steve to do so when he joined the LDS church. He was lucky to have me to accept and encourage his new self. 🙂 But it is hard to make any life change, certainly one that is so complete and all-encompassing as a new faith. That’s why becoming Christian is characterized as a rebirth!
Paul has great (and funny) advice on entering this new life:
I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung! (Okay, I added the exclamation point.)… this one thing I do [keep focused on Christ], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. (Phil. 3:8,13)
And what is before him? “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14) His faith is so awesome and a great example to us: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4:13)
This, from the man who held the coats of those who stoned Christians, before his conversion. If he can let go of the past and focus on Christ, so can we. What a hopeful message. Let the baggage go. God doesn’t want us to be chained to earth but to learn to grow heavenly wings.
2 Nephi 32:3 wraps up this post, and I share its call. May we use this technique when we are trying to figure out how to handle any challenge or situation in life:
“Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3)