Lately, I’ve been impressed by the sermons of Robert D. Hales. From an address entitled Christian Courage in October 2008, he taught the importance of being Christlike in our conversations with others:
This is especially important in our interactions with members of other Christian denominations. Surely our Heavenly Father is saddened—and the devil laughs—when we contentiously debate doctrinal differences with our Christian neighbors.
I imagine the same is true when we engage in contentious debates with fellow Latter-day Saints or anyone else for that matter. After all, regardless of the subject matter or the parties involved, the spirit of contention has only one source.
I’ve had more than a few conversations with others who have been critical or dismissive of my beliefs. These interactions have made me think about how I could best respond, and often, I want to do and be better. Here are some additional takeaways from Elder Hales, all direct quotes:
- Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world.
- The Savior responded differently in every situation.
- When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior.
- “The world hath hated [my disciples],” Jesus said, “because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).
- True disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition.
- As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter.
- And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord.
- As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication.
- Without guile, true disciples avoid being unduly judgmental of others’ views.
- As the Savior demonstrated with Herod, sometimes true disciples must show Christian courage by saying nothing at all.
- We do not feel we are better than they are. Rather, we desire with our love to show them a better way—the way of Jesus Christ.
- …to “love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]” (Matthew 5:44) takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage.
Photo credit: lds.org