For the last month I've been studying the sermon on the mount. Yes I said a month. In the past I would read through these few chapters in a few minutes and carry on through my study of the New Testament. But this time I decided to stop and really study that thing. In the process I've read it a ton of times and actually understand it in a way I never have before. It's found in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, plus the other gospels discuss it a bit and another sermon from Christ that is similar is found in the Book of Mormon. There is also the Sermon on the Plains in Luke that basically is the same thing as well.
I figure it is some very pertinent advice if it's found in the scriptures nearly verbatim that many times.
I've read it with less understanding in the past, but now as I look at it in it's entirety, I realize it is a formula to perfection. Christ is telling us what we need to do to be his disciple. Let me tell you it's some tough stuff in there and honestly after all of this time, I still struggle with pretty much everything he says. I've noticed that most of the new law that Christ brought to the earth relates to our associations with people. The entire sermon on the mount is related to how we treat others, and how we allow ourselves to feel by the treatment of others. So basically, this tells me that our salvation depends greatly on our ability to love others.
I think most people probably understand this, and I did as well, but after studying this so much I can really see how important it is, and how deeply we need to apply it.
I read a quote the other day that said "The quieter you become, the more you can hear", and I added to that "what we focus on tends to be what we see". They have two separate meanings and ideas, but both are two things I'm working on in my relationships and with acquaintances.
I have a tendency to talk, a lot. I am very strongly opinionated on issues and ideas and I alway hope that my experiences can help relieve someone else's burdens. I like to share. So specifically in social settings, I've been trying to really hush up when in the presence of others. I've actually had to start counting in my head to give someone else time to talk. I have also really been trying to keep my negative comments to myself. That's a hard one too. By negative I mean if I disagree with someone, I zip it up. I keep it, crumble it up and toss it, or I write about it here. But it gives me the same result. I get it out and let it go instead of poo pooing on someone's parade. Yes, I'm like an excitable puppy when in social situations.
The second quote has been a much harder idea for me to grasp. I have a very hard time with some people. There are just those that ick.... It's hard for me to see others in the way that God sees them. I see what's in front of me and usually...ick. We are told to love everyone, I haven't figured that out yet because frankly there are a lot of well, icks... So what I've been trying very hard to do is instead of mulling over their ick qualities and ick behaviors to no end, I've been trying to figure out why they seem to be such an ick and have compassion for them. Whoa that is hard especially when they have sprayed their ick all over you. But I think I'm getting better. I'm trying very hard to focus on the good in them and hoping not to see the obvious negatives. We all have negatives and I'm sure I've icked on plenty. I don't want to allow people the constant opportunity to hurt me or make me want to hurt them, so I'm trying to just let it all go. There is a lot of number counting, and hymn singing and abc reciting that goes through my head when I'm in the presence of others.
I remember my life when I didn't have the scriptures to guide me. When that inner voice was much quieter or absent. That was a very grey time of my life. I appreciate the black and white nature of my beliefs. I appreciate that ever elusive high standard. I appreciate having my sights set so high when the world is so low. I appreciate all of the safety, joy and blessings that high bar has given me.
Always aim a little higher. And while it may feel impossible to obtain, your reward will be great.