“Do you recall the experience the prophet Samuel had when the Lord sent him to Jesse’s house to anoint the new king of Israel? Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse’s firstborn. Eliab, it seems, was tall and had the appearance of a leader. Samuel saw that and jumped to a conclusion. It turned out to be the wrong conclusion, and the Lord taught Samuel: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Do you recall the experience the disciple Ananias had when the Lord sent him to bless Saul? Saul’s reputation had preceded him, and Ananias had heard about Saul and his cruel, relentless persecution of the Saints. Ananias heard and jumped to a conclusion that perhaps he should not minister to Saul. It turned out to be the wrong conclusion, and the Lord taught Ananias, “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”
What was the trouble with Samuel and Ananias in these two instances? They saw with their eyes and heard with their ears, and as a result, they passed judgment on others based on appearance and hearsay.
When the scribes and the Pharisees saw the woman taken in adultery, what did they see? A depraved woman, a sinner worthy of death. When Jesus saw her, what did He see? A woman who had temporarily succumbed to the weakness of the flesh but could be reclaimed through repentance and His Atonement. When people saw the centurion whose servant was sick with palsy, what did they see? Perhaps they saw an intruder, a foreigner, one to be despised. When Jesus saw him, what did He see? A man concerned for the welfare of a member of his household, who sought the Lord in candor and faith. When people saw the woman with an issue of blood, what did they see? Perhaps an unclean woman, an outcast to be shunned. When Jesus saw her, what did He see? A sickly woman, lonely and alienated due to circumstances she did not control, who hoped to be healed and to belong again.
In every case, the Lord saw these individuals for who they were and accordingly ministered to each one. As Nephi and his brother Jacob declared: “He inviteth them all to come unto him … , black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God.” “The one being is as precious in his sight as the other.”
May we likewise not let our eyes, our ears, or our fears mislead us but open our hearts and minds and minister freely to those around us as He did.
President Russell M. Nelson has taught: …
”Any abuse or prejudice toward another because of nationality, race, sexual orientation, gender, educational degrees, culture, or other significant identifiers is offensive to our Maker! …“First and foremost,” as President Nelson reminded us, I am a “child of God.”So are you, and so are all other people around us. I pray that we may come to a greater appreciation of this wonderful truth. It changes everything! We may have been raised in different cultures; we may come from different socioeconomic circumstances; our mortal heritage, including our nationality, skin color, food preferences, political orientation, etc., may vary greatly. But we are His children, all of us, without exception. We have the same divine origin and the same limitless potential through the grace of Jesus Christ.
…Our family has been privileged to live in different countries and cultures; our children have been blessed to marry within different ethnicities. I have come to realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the great equalizer. As we truly embrace it, “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”…It soon becomes clear that we, as well as others, “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
… Hence, rather than our seeing each other through the distorted lens of mortality, the gospel raises our sights and allows us to see each other through the flawless, unchanging lens of our sacred covenants. In so doing, we begin to eliminate our own natural prejudices and biases toward others, which in turn helps them minimize their prejudices and biases toward us, in a wonderful virtuous cycle. Indeed, we follow our dear prophet’s invitation: “My dear brothers and sisters, how we treat each other really matters! How we speak to and about others at home, at church, at work, and online really matters. Today, I am asking us to interact with others in a higher, holier way.”
This afternoon, in the spirit of that invitation, I wish to add my pledge to that of our wonderful Primary children:
If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
If you don’t talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev’ryone.
So I will! I will!
I testify that He whom we address as our Father in Heaven is indeed our Father, that He loves us, that He knows each of His children intimately, that He cares deeply about each one, and that we are truly all alike unto Him. I testify that the way we treat each other is a direct reflection of our understanding of and appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice and Atonement of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray that, like Him, we may love others because that is the right thing to do, not because they are doing the right thing or fitting the “right” mold. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”