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Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Song of the Righteous: Part 6

Coming in at number 6 of 10 is Hymn 220, Lord I Would Follow Thee:

Savior, may I learn to love thee, walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another, finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee--Lord I would follow Thee

Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another? Lord I would follow Thee

I would be my brother's keeper; I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother's keeper--Lord I would follow Thee

Savior, may I love my brother as I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon, for thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother--Lord I would follow Thee.

The first verse of this is an excellent reminder of what it means to love.  For my more frequent readers, sorry if I refer to Tad Callister's words too much, but his point that charity is the quintessence of Godhood makes this verse even more wonderful.  The crowning spiritual gift, as well as the culmination of all spiritual gifts, is Charity, the pure love of Christ.  If we truly love, we will live as the embodiment of all that is love did.  We will live as Christ did and act towards others the way He acted towards others, "paus[ing] to help and lift another, [and through Him] finding strength beyond [our] own."  When we live our love Him, loving others and living in love for others will naturally follow.

That also means acknowledging how dependent we are on Him and hopefully letting that fact permanently distract us from any comparison to how we are doing relative to others or how far ahead or behind we think they are from us.  As Jack R. Christianson said, "I'll leave final judgement to ... Christ. ... He's the Judge.  You and I need to quit judging each other and ourselves.  And, you see, if you care about pleasing the Father you don't have to worry about ever carrying the burden of being a judge, unless you're a Bishop or a Stake President or a General Authority or a Mission President.  They're the only judges there are with ordained authority to judge people, you don't have to do it!  Isn't that a relief?  You never have to judge anybody else.  I mean, as in, whether they're going to make it [to heaven] or not.  You still have to judge their character if you're going to date [th]em."  There's another article that talks more about this here if you're interested.

Now the message of the next verse can be taken one of two ways.  Either one in excess is unhealthy and unChristlike.  On the one hand you have those who take the concept of being their brothers keeper as an invitation to take charge of every decision they make, giving every effort to dictate how wrong or right they think people are and what they should be doing at every turn.  Their claim is that they do it out of love, always misusing the idea of "I will not help you one inch to hell."

On the other side of it, you have those who think being our brother's keeper means that we are to be there to help someone at their every beck and call, even if what they want isn't what they need.  Indeed we should be willing to put our more trivial pursuits on hold to lift another.  For priesthood holders in the LDS church, this also means always staying worthy and willing to provide a priesthood blessing whenever the request comes.  However, this does not mean we go as far as giving requested "help" if it means enabling something dangerous or otherwise harmful to... well... anyone.  Situations like that are times where "I will not help you one inch to hell" is more of a loving stance than a rude and mean one.  Kindly offering a better alternative to their request that actually will help them is the more loving option in those situations.  Being our brothers keeper, I believe, simply means keeping the Savior's best interest for them at heart.  Notice how I did not say their best interest, but rather the Savior's.  His will for us is always the best thing to pursue, even and especially if it doesn't match the desires of our hearts.

The easiest way to let the message of this hymn truly sink in to our hearts and become a part of our nature, I think is to consider the message the Lord gave us in 3 Nephi 27, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;" as well as chapter 12, verse 48 where He commands us to be perfect.  More about that here.

The more we are like Him, the easier it becomes to follow Him and vice versa.