Episode 20. June 12, 2016. Today I want to speak on a subject that is a bit outside of my comfort zone. The topic is humility. I do not approach this topic as a master, but rather as a student. In fact, I would be much more qualified to speak on pride. On that subject I have some expertise!
I have been pondering this topic of humility for some time now. As I was reading 3rd Nephi, I came across a scripture in Chapter 12 that gave me an additional insight:
“And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold you have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled”
What caught my attention is that the command to come unto Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit comes AFTER the command to believe and repent!
As I continued to study 3rd Nephi, I took note of the oft-quoted verses about the wise man who built his house upon a rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Well, when the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon those houses….we all know just how great the fall was of that house built upon the sand!
What was the difference between the wise man and the foolish man? Both heard the words of the Lord. The difference was that the foolish man thought he knew better than the Lord and so he could not then follow the counsel of the Master.
Key conclusions from these two scriptures:
- We need to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit – which by the way is perhaps the best definition of all for humility – in order to truly come unto Christ – and this is more about sanctification – removing the effect of sin in our lives and less about justification – removing the penalty for sin.
- We need to listen to and really HEAR the words of the Lord and then have enough humility to be willing to do something about what our ears heard and our hearts came to understand.
I have also been studying King Benjamin’s address to his people. What a marvelous recipe for discipleship! Through my study with both my wife and my son Garen, we have identified 13 topics that King Benjamin addresses and encourages the people to act upon. One of those thirteen is humility and the only topic that King Benjamin refers to more than humility is obedience. I think the connection between those two topics is obvious. I will talk more about King Benjamin’s address in a subsequent znukcast.
So what can we do to increase the level of humility in our lives and therefore become more sanctified disciples?
You may recall Elder Christopherson’s talk from our last general conference titled: “As Many as I love, I Rebuke and Chasten”
He started his talk by simply stating: “Our Heavenly Father is a God of high expectations.” He then goes on to state that if we are to meet these high expectations, then we must be willing to accept and even seek correction. He said that Correction is vital if we would conform our lives “unto a perfect man that is unto the measure of the statue of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13). I am sure you are all familiar with Paul’s words on divine correction or chastening as found in Hebrews 12:6. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” Elder Christopherson then spoke about three key purposes of divine chastening. 1) to persuade us to repent, 2) to refine and sanctify us and 3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path.
Today, I want only to touch on the second of these three purposes: the concept of being refined and sanctified.
Five years ago we were in Idaho and Utah in conjunction with our son Garen’s wedding. We were fortunate on this trip to be able to spend a couple of days with one of LaDawn’s 5 brothers. Now of these 5 brothers, all but the youngest have served as Bishops. The one we stayed with was currently serving as a Bishop at the time. His name is Lanny and with his permission, I want to tell you his story.
I knew Lanny before I knew my wife, LaDawn. We ran track together in high school – he was one grade ahead of me. Lanny was an outgoing, popular, athletically gifted though somewhat cocky kid. Though a member of the church, his actions and speech were not always congruent with his faith – at least that’s how it looked to me as a non-member.
Lanny served a mission in Germany and came back and married a wonderful girl. Before getting married, he tried going to college, but school just didn’t suit him. So he settled down near Blackfoot, eventually found a good enough job to pay the bills. Over the years they have had 4 boys and 2 girls. 2 of the boys chose not to go on missions, their oldest one went out but came home after 6 months for foot surgery and never went back. Their youngest son has now been home from his mission for a couple of years.
On Jan 17, 2010 Lanny was called to be the Bishop of the Thomas 3rd Ward in the Blackfoot Idaho West Stake. When he was called he made a commitment to the Lord and his stake president to be the best bishop he could be. He knew that he was a bit hard-headed, so he prayed that he could be humble so that he could understand the needs of the people that he would serve. He wanted to make sure that when someone came to him with an issue, that he could counsel them as the Lord would have him do, rather than just tell them to suck it up and get on with their lives.
Three months after being called he began experiencing back pain and within another 2 months he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of white blood cells. In 2010 over 50% of the 20,000 people in the US diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma died. This was serious.
Lanny has been one of the fortunate ones. After nearly a year of treatment which included a stem cell transplant that took him to the brink of death and weeks of hospitalization in Salt Lake, Lanny’s multiple myeloma went into remission.
Spending time with him, his wife and 3 of their 6 children 5 years ago was an incredible experience. I am in awe of the man Lanny has become through this ordeal. Truly his countenance reflects the deep love he has for his Savior. Through this experience our entire extended family has been blessed as we have all witnessed a miracle of healing and a miracle of sanctification. Which we participated in with our fasting and prayers and our temple visits to include his name on the prayer rolls. Lanny himself will testify what a huge blessing this has been to him, his ward and his immediate family.
Now I am not suggesting that everyone that prays to be corrected or chastened will end up with cancer and a near death experience. In fact, I believe it is probably the exception and not the rule. Still, I for one find it quite scary to petition the Lord for divine correction. But with faith and hope, I have tried to take Elder Christopherson’s counsel to heart. Thus far, my experience has been humbling in and of itself as I have become increasingly sensitized about what I say, how I say it as well as how I spend my time. I have felt the gentle rebuke of the spirit a number of times as it reminds me what it is I am trying to become. I have a long way to go. Part of my prayer is that the Lord will be gentle with me as He helps me become worthy enough and holy enough to be in his presence.
When I was younger I used to think I was a pretty humble guy. Boy was I wrong! I have learned that if we ever think we have arrived, then we can know for sure we have taken the wrong road. In any case, I have made a list for myself about what some signs of humility might be in our lives. This is a list that I have experience with. My hope is that it may be helpful to you as well.
- No need to be right – especially when we think or even know that we are
- Willingness to seek the counsel of our leaders and then really listen so that we can HEAR what it is we need to do and then act upon it. This is especially true when it comes to General Conference.
- Recognizing that the faults we see in others are really just signs that we struggle with some aspect of the same problem – and then taking action to improve
- Seeking first the kingdom of God and making that our number one priority – coming unto Christ with full purpose of heart by turning our wills over to Him and not just saying “Thy Will be Done”, but actually seeking his will in all aspects of our lives.
- Holding no grudges because of our willingness to forgive unconditionally
- Paying a generous fast offering – knowing that the Lord can use our funds for better purposes than we can
- Fulfilling our assignments to the very best of our ability – realizing that God knows what is best for us and others more than we know
The blessings and promises of humility are great. It allows us to meet the high expectations of Heavenly Father. It brings an outpouring of the Holy Ghost in our lives as recorded in 3 Nephi 9:20.
“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost….”
It is my hope and prayer that we will all seek for a greater degree of humility in our lives. The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years as described in Deuteronomy 8:2 “and thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep the commandments or no”.
May we not be left to wander in our own wilderness is my hope and my prayer.