Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

RS/MP Lesson 2: ““Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself”” (George Albert Smith Manual)

Posted by kirkcaudle on January 6, 2012

The manual starts out with this, “George Albert Smith was well known for his capacity to love others. President J. Reuben Clark Jr., one of his counselors in the First Presidency, said of him: ‘His real name was Love. … He gave his love to everyone he met. He gave his love to all whom he did not meet.’”

 
Reading this made me think about what it means to love someone. Often young people will ask, “how will I know if I love someone enough to marry them?” This, of course, is a fair question. However, I do not think that the question needs to be confined to marriage. Perhaps we can ask, “how do I know if I love people in general?” And further, “how can I tell if my peers (ward, co-workers, friends, etc.) love me?” The easy answer to these questions is based upon actions.

 

Actions is exactly how the manual responses to this inquiry, “President Smith demonstrated his love for others through countless acts of compassion.” Now, of course I am not advocating that we not be compassionate. However, can I be sure that I love someone just because I home teacher them every month or give them Priesthood blessings? On the other hand, can I be sure that someone loves me if they are constantly showing compassion towards me? Again, I think the manual attempts to answer question such as these. It does this by the four subheadings:

 

1. All people are our brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father
2. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love all of God’s children.
3. We exercise charity by reaching out to those who need help and encouragement.
4. True happiness comes from loving and serving others.

I have heard these four things for just about, if not all, of my life. I feel like I know them. I feel like I know the right answers. In fact, I feel like I do them pretty well. However, I still do not feel as if I “love” everyone that I am around. I am even pretty confident that I do not love everyone in my ward. I feel as if I serve people in the church more than I love people in the church. Perhaps that is because it is easy to do a calling well and get done what you need to get done, but it is hard to love all those people that you serve (especially with personality clashes).

 
In order to get some perspective on all of this I will turn to some of the scriptures listed in this lesson.

 

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37–40).

There is an old saying that I think fits nicely here: You can’t love others until you love to love yourself. Although, according to Jesus, you can’t love yourself until you love God. Therefore, the stages of love move like this:

1. God
2. Self
3. Others

Sometimes it seems as though we try and do this backward when are having a hard time with our testimonies and a hard time forgiving ourselves for things that we have done wrong. In order to cure this, we might attempt serving others and in hopes of loving them. There is nothing wrong with this service. However, Jesus tell us to work on our relationship with God first. If we can be right with God we can be right with man.

Verse 39 is a quote from Lev. 19:18 which reads, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.” If this commandment goes for how we treat others, it must also go for how we treat ourselves. In order to properly love and serve others we need to stop holding grudges against ourselves. It is awful hard to serve those who you love “as thyself” if you are not happy with “thy self.”

 
See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires . . . And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace (D&C 88:123, 125).

In order to love people we have to stop competing with them. It should not matter who is the best singer, speaker, smartest, richest, funniest, etc. If we truly love people we wish the best for all people. However, wishing the best for people is not just a thought, an action, or doing a calling. Rather, it is being clothed with “the bond of charity.” Reaching this form on charity must be quite a feat as it is synonymous with the phrase, “the bond of perfectness and peace.” This bond seems to be the exact opposite of covetous, which is also a bond.

 
Not only are we asked not to be covetous, but we are asked to give stuff away. We are asked to put the needs (and maybe even wants) of others before our own. If charity is taking, covetousness is only receiving.

 

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:20)

I think this verse nicely connects with the God, self, others, pattern in Matt 22. All love starts with God, not us. After all, we love God because he loved us first .

 
Also, “brother” in this verse comes from the Greek word adelfos/ αδελφος (excuse my transliteration) which can either mean literal brother or fellow believer. It often seems that those that we have the hardest time loving are those to whom we are the closest. Perhaps we have an easier time doing charity in the RS knitting hats in order to send them off to Africa, while we have a harder time inviting new members in the ward over for dinner. Love for the “other” at times seems easier to manage than love for the “brother.”

 
This all brings me back to the first line of this post, “George Albert Smith was well known for his capacity to love others.” Perhaps it is not that I need to work on my love for others. Rather, I need to work on my capacity to love others. I need to work on my relationship with God daily so that I can fully serve others daily. Therefore, it is not that I don’t love people enough; it is that I don’t love God enough. I believe that loving “the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” is the great commandment because it is what gives us the capacity to love others. Without this capacity we are just left wishing that we held more love in our hearts.

13 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 2: ““Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself”” (George Albert Smith Manual)”

  1. LDS-Church-History is posting a detailed chronology of his life base on a variety of sources including:
    George Albert Smith journals

    John Henry Smith journals (father, apostle and member of first presidency)
    Heber J. Grant journals
    Journals of other apostles and prophets
    Events from a variety of historical publications

    http://lds-church-history.blogspot.com/2009/01/lds-history.html

  2. LJ said

    awesome love it, thanks so much for posting this, i’m a relief society teacher and have been feeling discouraged about presenting my lessons as ive been active now 4 years but feel my knowledge soo limited, and reading the lesson i didnt know how to break it down, but reading your notes i understand!! nnow i’m feeling a bit excited, coz it makes sense to my mind and where i can create on conversation, thank you, keep posting coz it really helps to look at different ways of looking at it giving more options to present the subject.. One day i’l do what u are doing to help elaborate on subjects to help others or give insight …..

  3. kirkcaudle said

    LJ

    Glad to hear that it helped. I am not sure if you are new to reading this blog or not, but if so, we try and get something posted for every lesson. I know teaching can be very hard for many people. Free to come back, read, and make comments as you feel necessary.

  4. kerstina said

    Thank you so much for the insights it helped a lot. Sometimes I find it harder to teach the so called basics, because everyone has heared (not necessarily understood) them and isn`t so interested. You gave me wonderful new ideas I`ll be teaching RS this sunday. Sorry for my English – I`m from a Germany.

  5. kaylijabreu said

    I also want to thank you! I am using your love stages for my lesson on sunday. I enjoyed reading all of it! you sound like a great teacher

  6. kirkcaudle said

    Thank you both for your comments.

  7. 3nagranch said

    What wonderul thoughts on the lesson. It is very important to me as a teacher to not just read the book. And teaching another lesson that was “we need to serve others and love others” was not high on my list of great lessons. We have all been taught that since the day we heard the gospel for the first time. But to break it down like this and realize that we do need to love God first and then after that we need to go beyond compassion and develop the bond of charity. I am actually excited about this lesson now. I am going to talk about how we can teach ourselves to increase our capacity to love others and how we can increase our love for God and he can help us to increase that capacity to love others.

    Thanks so much!

  8. DanB said

    I appreciate the thought that went into your post. It’s a critical issue all must come to comprehend and incorporate. A wonderful essay on this was offered by C. Terry Warner, BYU professor of philosophy (found at http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=100&chapid=1109). Quoting Kierkegaard, Warner states, “‘Christianly understood, to love human beings is to love God and to love God is to love human beings.’ Though love of God is sought first, it is not achieved first and then followed by love of neighbor; we will look in vain for a process or discipline to carry us from faith to love. Love of God is love of neighbor.” (The last “is” appears in italics)

  9. Erin said

    I did not use any of your lesson, but I did enjoy it I had already prepared my lesson ( or the Lords as the spirit dictated it) before reading yours. I am very happy to have read your insights and wish I had time to include them all. The thing you do is service and that is part of this lesson. I like the part where he ( George A. Smith ) says the Highway to Happiness is the Gospel of Jesus Christ !! I agree and add this. I have never personally seen any man or woman securely on that Highway of activity who embraced the Gospel not HAPPY !! those who suffer are lacking a key principle here or there and have run into the ditch.. Lend a hand as George Albert Smith says and help them up !!!. Thank You Bro. Kirk and keep up the good Service.

  10. Alex said

    Hi Bro Kirk,

    Liked your post. Can you expand a bit more on what you said: “If charity is taking, covetousness is only receiving.” Why is charity linked to taking?
    Thanks.

  11. kirkcaudle said

    Thanks Alex. It is always nice to hear that these notes (and this site in general) help people.

    Honestly, now that I read that line back to myself, I am not sure if I like it or not. I probably should have omitted it so I am glad that you pointed it out. The line is very unclear. That comment had to do with my D&C 88:123-25 commentary. I see those verses as contrasting covetousness with charity. Perhaps I can flesh out that section a bit more here.

    In those verses, love is described as being clothed with “the bond of charity.” That bond of charity is something that we take upon ourselves. However, that bond does not stay with us; it extends to those around us. If we truly are clothed with the bond of charity then we will treat other accordingly. In other words, we will take our gifts given from God and share them with other.

    In 88:123 it says to “learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.” He or she that has true love/charity will know when it is the right time to give and to take. That person will be able to do both graciously due to being clothed with the bonds of charity. If we are part of this bond we might take the gifts given from others as much as we gift to others.

    Alternatively, covetousness only receives, it never gives back. Covetousness only looks forward to what it could have, never to what it could give. Covetousness is never thankful and never gives back.

  12. Alex said

    Nicely said. Thanks for the clarifying.
    Have a nice day!

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