A while ago, I wrote down my favourite scriptures from the New Testament on blue notecards. I can’t remember exactly why, but it felt like a good thing at the time. Since we’re studying this scripture collection in church this year, it feels like just the right time to begin sharing them. I’ve shared two previous posts of some of my ‘scriptural faves’ from The Book of Mormon, and although there are still more, it’s time for some Old World wisdom.
A lot of my favourites from the New Testament come either from things the Saviour said or that the apostle Paul wrote. Which is really what makes up most of the New Testament! Some of the things I love about what Christ said are because they’re perfect rejoinders to silly things the Pharisees said or did, some are because they’re beautiful and teach perfect truths, and some are good reminders of what’s important. Paul’s things are pretty much always interesting, and he wasn’t afraid to say difficult things and be firm and bold about them, but you can also sense a great love and compassion in him. I wish we knew more about him, his life and his other letters. It would make some of the things he’s written more clear, and I think it would just be really interesting to know. I look forward to meeting him one day, along with Nephi, Isaiah, Jacob, Ether, Peter, Joshua, and Moroni.
Words in un-italics are where I’m using the French translation by Louis Segond (my English translations of), or clarified terms from the footnotes of the LDS edition.
For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.Therefore speak I to them in parables: because seeing they see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And for them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith Ye hear with your ears, and understand nothing; ye watch with your eyes, and see nothing. For this people’s heart is become stupid, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
This both teaches a good lesson and is really sad. Whoever hears God’s word and gladly receives it, seeking to understand it and know more, will understand it and be given greater knowledge as they seek. The Holy Ghost will come to them in their hearts and minds and enlighten them about earthly and eternal things. They will see ever more clearly the kingdom of God and His purposes, and be given the help they need to become like Christ. Anyone hearing that same gospel and rejecting it through blindness, skepticism, disdain or a desire not to be accountable to it, or who has once received it and then begun to disbelieve and seek out mistakes will cease to receive more because they cannot accept it. They won’t feel the enlightening influence of the Holy Ghost helping them to have faith and patience, or begin to grow in the knowledge of God. Even what they already had of faith or spiritual knowledge will disappear, because they won’t seek after more or accept what they have at present. They will turn their eyes and hearts away from the truth and greater knowledge. It’s sad because of the last part where the Lord says that they refuse to hear, see or understand the truth, because if they did they would be healed – as though they don’t want to be healed; they can’t accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour and so refuse to be converted. All they would have to do is open their eyes and hearts, and hear Him, and they could be healed.
And when the men of Gennaseret recognised Jesus, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment; and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
I love this because of the Galilean people whose faith in the Saviour’s healing power was so firm that they asked only to touch the hem of his clothes to receive it. I love that they gathered in such numbers, and sought after every sick person in the area, so they could make sure all of them got the blessing, and the respect they showed by not wanting to ask too much of the Lord – for an individual laying on of hands for each one, for example – but only wanted to touch his clothing as he went. I love that; I love that they believed, that they were healed, that there was so much faith and hope in that place and people and that day or days when it happened. This last phrase is also beautiful to me: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. Not just partially or just for now, but permanently and wholly healed/made perfectly whole. Does that mean they were also healed spiritually/emotionally? This gives me hope and reassurance that Christ’s power is complete, and that He also wills my perfect healing or wholeness from whatever ails me; also that when I have such faith as these Galileans, the same will happen for me.
I think I’ll save the next one in Matthew for later, as it won’t quite fit here.
Matthew 6:32-36, 38
For if ye love them which love you, what thank[s] have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank[s] have ye? for sinners also do the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank[s] have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured unto you again.
This counsel seems counter-intuitive, or at least unfair, at first glance. Why should we love our enemies, and be kind to those who are unkind to us? Of course, God is telling us that we are made to be better than that – He wants us to move onwards, becoming more whole beings who are, like He is, generous, forgiving, big-hearted. He also shares a hidden truth: doing and being like this will actually bless us immensely; we’ll receive far more goodness in return than we give. How? Last year, I read an excellent book by Adam Grant (who then became one of my favourite thinkers/authors) called, “Give and Take”. He demonstrates, through evidence (in a really interesting way – he’s very readable) that the principles in this sermon are precisely true – they are borne out consistently in the real world. Givers, those generous people who give without expecting returns, even to those who are takers (sensibly – there are some restrictions on that), tend to be successful over the long term. This is partly because most people are matchers, and are grateful for the givers’ help, so give back and recommend them to others, who also reward them. Anyway, it’s a fascinating book, and as I read it, I kept thinking about this counsel in the scriptures, being amazed that it was so perfectly borne out in life. Not a thing I’d realised before – and therefore had struggled a bit with the apparent fairness of it. I knew it was the right sort of thing to do, but figured the rewards were one of those un-evident things that we’ll understand at a more advanced point.
There are so many more faves in this scripture collection! Come back for more in the future. And please share yours, if you have them, in the lovely comments section below.