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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 7: “Ye Never Knew Me”


Not too busy to visit the temple, but too busy to visit the less fortunate


Today, my friend and I were on our way to visit a local superstore. In the distant regions of the parking lot, a father held up a sign saying that his family was stranded. 

In speaking with this father, I was amazed that no one in that city (which is 95% LDS) had helped them in any way. As I spoke with him, I saw an LDS temple off in the distance. Actually, it was six blocks, or one mile, away. And the best way to get to that temple is to drive past the superstore.

In my opinion, that's a pretty sad commentary about we who have supposedly taken upon us Christ's name. What good are your temple covenants if you're totally misaligned with the Savior?

Not too busy to lead, but too busy to visit the less fortunate


Ironically, this morning's superstore parking lot encounter isn't the only sobering story I've encountered this month.

My friend (I’ll call him “Wilson”) has cerebral palsy, schizophrenia and a variety of other ailments (imagine Tom Hanks in "Cast Away," but for 45 years). 

He’s a good man. He’s lived his entire life single, having never loved nor been loved. Even though he receives disability payments, he is perpetually destitute (his rent takes up 2/3 of his checks). People have played horrible tricks on him and have taken advantage of him at every turn.

He was recently diagnosed with gout. That's not the worst of it. His Achilles tendon is hanging by a thread and he has an open wound in his leg. His legs are swollen up and purple. It's not good. He needs to see a doctor, but his schizophrenia gets in the way of that. He's falling through the cracks.

A mutual friend called a bishop in Wilson’s area to see if he could help, but received no call back. My friend finally contacted the bishop, who said that because Wilson lived in a different ward boundary, that bishop “couldn’t” (and that’s a direct quote) help Wilson. My friend contacted the bishop in Wilson’s ward boundaries, but nothing was done.

Disgusted with how things were (not) going, I intervened. I contacted the mission office and the local missionaries to see if they could help. They couldn’t. I also called Wilson’s stake president, who promised he’d get back with me. After about 10 days in which neither Wilson nor I had heard from that stake president nor his bishop, something happened.

On Mother's Day, Wilson’s scooter battery died while miles away from home. In searching for help, the stake president and Bishop didn’t answer the phone. (Here it is, a few weeks later, and I still haven’t received call backs from the voicemails I left). The missionaries said they were busy. 

Luckily, I reached a subscriber to this blog’s Facebook group who lives near Wilson. He dropped what he was doing (fixing his wife her Mother's Day dinner), traveled to Wilson’s location, helped Wilson and his scooter into his truck and took them home. 

An interesting side-note: In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), first a priest, and then a Levite, pass by and avoid the "half-dead" man. 
Maybe it's just me, but it seems as though simply being a leader or having a temple recommend doesn't automatically get you on the good side of one of the Lord's parables. Why?

“Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief...” (D&C 44:6; emphasis mine).

“for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4:26)

“And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me...” (D&C 42:31)

“But ye have despised the poor.” (James 2:6)

“Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?” (Alma 5:55)

“And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C 52:40)

“Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!” (D&C 56:16)

“Ye Never Knew Me”


It’s no wonder that Yeshua says that those who don’t do these things aren’t his disciples. In fact, despite whatever callings, titles, covenants, number of dead baptized, amount of tithes and fast offerings paid -- no matter what earthly things you’ve done, if you haven’t been charitable, you’re not bound for heaven, but hell. 

I know there are some who might say, “Well hey, I paid my fast offering. I’ve been charitable. So you can just go right ahead and check that box off as having been completed.”

Really? 

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

Perhaps I’m wrong here, but something tells me that simply going through the motions and checking off boxes isn’t quite what the Savior has in mind for you. 

So let me ask you: Are you absolutely positive that writing out a monthly check equals the charity-centered life and behavior the Savior expects from His disciples? 
  • How does paying fast offering qualify as your visiting “the poor and the needy”?
  • Just how often do you go downtown or to the local grocery store (where the beggars stand, on the street corner) and help them out? 
  • How much currency or how many gift cards (which are not consecrated for your usage) are in your wallet, purse or car glove box? 
  • Are we not all beggars? If you neglect the poor and needy, what obligation does God have to take care of (let alone hear) you?
  • What non-profits do you support with your time and/or funds?
  • Someday, when you are shown the video of your life (from both your vantage point and those whom you interacted with), how many lost opportunities to render charity will be displayed?
  • Are you honestly meeting your potential in rendering mercy? 
  • How can you honestly ask God for blessings and mercy if you aren’t honestly striving to meet your charity potential (see Matthew 5:7)?
Then there are those who flooded Facebook last November/December -- and this spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- with pictures of their “marvelous works” of charity to others. However, they also totally, publicly and flagrantly defied what we are told not to do in both the New Testament and Book of Mormon:

“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2; 3 Nephi 13:2)

Yeshua was anything but passive or indirect in His interactions with others. He, our Exemplar, showed that rendering charity and mercy is a direct and intimate thing, with human touching human, soul touching soul. It begins with you -- the touch of your hand, the twinkle in your eyes, the smile on your face -- and ends with both you (the giver) and the beggar (the recipient of your direct charity) praising God.

And yes, it does require you to step out of your box, your safety zone. But doing that is far more preferable than the alternatives:

“Verily, I say unto you, It is not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
For the day soon cometh that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works.
And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:30-33 JST)

“Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.” (D&C 104:18)

So, you need to know Him. How can you love as He has loved (John 13:34) unless you first know how He loves? 

That’s why I invite you to spend some time browsing through the New Testament. Time and again, you’ll see the Savior turning away from “great multitudes of people” from diverse locations so he could minister to The One. Always touching, always healing. Always.

If Yeshua saw it necessary to minister not to the healthy, but the sick (Matthew 9:12), how much greater, then, is that need for you?

Yeshua’s compassion upon those who were clearly sinners and shunned by the temple-going patrons of that time far surpassed (in my opinion) what most of us consider “compassionate.”

As Wilson’s story demonstrates, it’s a behavior which we latter-day “saints” need to take more seriously.

How about you?


2 comments:

  1. It's a shame that there are a lot of people in parking lots, gas stations, etc. that are scamming you vs actually needing help. I used to try and take a blind eye to the scammers in hopes that some were genuine. Unfortunately scammers are more prevalent and I just can't do it any more..

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    Replies
    1. It's been my experience that the Lord is pretty adept at sifting out the scammers.

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