Question: Are imperfect people all God has ever had to work with?
Answer: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we...” (General Conference, April 2013, “Lord, I Believe,” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)
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In 2 Corinthians Paul writes to the Saints that he is sorry he has been so blunt and direct with some members of the Church. He expresses his love to them.
2 Corinthians 2:4
1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness (scolding you and causing you grief and worry).
2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? (In other words, if I make you unhappy, who is left to make me happy? Answer: only you whom I have made sad.)
3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice (the reason I wrote rather harsh things to you in my last letter is that I was worried for fear you would continue going in wrong directions); having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all (having confidence that the joy which obedience to Christ brings me is the same joy which such obedience will bring you).
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears (I was deeply worried about you); not that ye should be grieved (I didn’t want to cause you grief), but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you (I just wanted you to know how much I love you and care about your salvation).
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Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
...The ancient King Solomon was one of the most outwardly successful human beings in history. He seemed to have everything—money, power, adoration, honor. But after decades of self-indulgence and luxury, how did King Solomon sum up his life? “All is vanity,” he said.
This man, who had it all, ended up disillusioned, pessimistic, and unhappy, despite everything he had going for him.
There is a word in German, Weltschmerz. Loosely defined, it means a sadness that comes from brooding about how the world is inferior to how we think it ought to be. Perhaps there is a little Weltschmerz in all of us. When silent sorrows creep into the corners of our lives. When sadness saturates our days and casts deep shadows over our nights. When tragedy and injustice enter the world around us, including in the lives of those we love. When we journey through our own personal and lonely path of misfortune, and pain darkens our stillness and breaches our tranquility—we might be tempted to agree with Solomon that life is vain and devoid of meaning.
The Great Hope
The good news is, there is hope. There is a solution to the emptiness, vanity, and Weltschmerz of life. There is a solution to even the deepest hopelessness and discouragement you might feel.
This hope is found in the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the Savior’s redemptive power to heal us of our soul-sickness. “I am come,” Jesus declared, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
We achieve that abundant life not by focusing on our own needs or on our own achievements but by becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ—by following in His ways and engaging in His work. We find the abundant life by forgetting ourselves and engaging in the great cause of Christ.
And what is the cause of Christ? It is to believe in Him, love as He loved, and do as He did.
Jesus “went about doing good.” He walked among the poor, the outcast, the sick, and the ashamed. He ministered to the powerless, the weak, and the friendless. He spent time with them; He spoke with them. “And he healed them all.” Everywhere He went, the Savior taught the “good news” of the gospel. He shared eternal truths that set people free spiritually as well as temporally. Those who dedicate themselves to Christ’s cause discover the truth of the Savior’s promise: “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Solomon was wrong, my dear brothers and sisters—life is not “vanity.” To the contrary, it can be full of purpose, meaning, and peace. The healing hands of Jesus Christ reach out to all who seek Him. I have come to know without a doubt that believing and loving God and striving to follow Christ can change our hearts, soften our pain, and fill our souls with “exceedingly great joy.”
Believe, Love, Do
Of course, we must do more than merely have an intellectual understanding of the gospel for it to have this healing influence in our lives. We must incorporate it into our lives—make it a part of who we are and what we do. May I suggest that discipleship begins with three simple words:
Believe, love, and do... God knows you. You are His child. He loves you. ...
The scriptures teach us that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is.” For some, the act of believing is difficult. Sometimes our pride gets in the way. Perhaps we think that because we are intelligent, educated, or experienced, we simply cannot believe in God. And we begin to look at religion as foolish tradition.
In my experience, belief is not so much like a painting we look at and admire and about which we discuss and theorize. It is more like a plow that we take into the fields and, by the sweat of our brow, create furrows in the earth that accept seeds and bear fruit that shall remain.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. This is the promise to all who seek to believe.
The scriptures reveal that the more we love God and His children, the happier we become. The love Jesus spoke about, however, isn’t a gift-card, throwaway, move-on-to-other-things love. It isn’t a love that is spoken of and then forgotten. It is not a “let me know if there is anything I can do” sort of love.
The love God speaks of is the kind that enters our hearts when we awake in the morning, stays with us throughout the day, and swells in our hearts as we give voice to our prayers of gratitude at evening’s end. This is the inexpressible love Heavenly Father has for us.
It is this endless compassion that allows us to more clearly see others for who they are. Through the lens of pure love, we see immortal beings of infinite potential and worth and beloved sons and daughters of Almighty God. Once we see through that lens, we cannot discount, disregard, or discriminate against anyone.
In the Savior’s work, it is often by small and simple means that “great things [are] brought to pass.” We know that it requires repetitive practice to become good at anything. Whether it’s playing the clarinet, kicking a ball into a net, repairing a car, or even flying an airplane, it is through practicing that we may become better and better.
The organization our Savior created on earth—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—helps us to do just that. It offers a place to practice living the way He taught and blessing others the way He did. As Church members, we are given callings, responsibilities, and opportunities to reach out in compassion and minister to others...
This Work Is for Everyone
Of course, this emphasis is not new. It simply provides a renewed and refined opportunity for us to practice the Savior’s commandment to “love one another,” a refined way to implement and practice the purpose of the Church. Just think about missionary work; the courageous, humble, and confident sharing of the gospel is a wonderful example of ministering to the spiritual needs of others, whoever they are. Or doing temple work—seeking out the names of our ancestors and offering them the blessings of eternity. ...
You will find that this Church is filled with some of the finest people this world has to offer. They are welcoming, loving, kind, and sincere. They are hardworking, willing to sacrifice, and even heroic at times. And they are also painfully imperfect. They make mistakes. From time to time they say things they shouldn’t. They do things they wish they hadn’t. But they do have this in common—they want to improve and draw closer to the Lord, our Savior, even Jesus Christ.
They are trying to get it right. They believe. They love. They do. They want to become less selfish, more compassionate, more refined, more like Jesus.
The Blueprint for Happiness
Yes, life can be hard at times. Certainly we all have our times of despair and discouragement.
But the gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope. And, in the Church of Jesus Christ, we join with others who seek a place where we can feel at home—a place of growth where, together, we can believe, love, and do. Regardless of our differences, we seek to embrace one another as sons and daughters of our beloved Heavenly Father.
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 142; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 190; Excerpts from General Conference, October 2018, “Believe, Love, Do,” By Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.