Tuesday, October 11, 2016

059. Respecters of Persons

The scriptures are replete with the message that all are alike unto God (Eccl 9:2; Moroni 8:17; 2 Nephi 26:33) and that God is no respecter of persons (Duet 1:17; Prov 24:23; Prov 28:21; Acts 10:34; James 2:9; Rom 2:11; D&C 1:35; D&C 38:16; Moroni 8:12). Yet, why do we continually compare ourselves with others? Why do we esteem others to be above or below ourselves? Why do we reverence and give deference to the wealthy, the intelligent, the famous, the elite, the well-known, the good-looking, the gospel scholar, and to those we judge to have a higher status or station than our own? For the Lord has said: “the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons.” (D&C 38:16). Do we treat those of self-perceived higher status more cordially, more kindly, more pleasantly, more favorably than others in the hope that we can gain their favor and somehow magically become elevated to their level? Do we believe that we are more secure spiritually, temporally, intellectually, etc., if we find ourselves to be accepted among the elite in those categories? If so, this is not pleasing in the sight of God:
“But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:9);
“To have respect of persons is not good” (Proverbs 28:21);
“Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great” (Deuteronomy 1:17);

Being a respecter of persons is a form of idolatry. As we allow our egos to idolize others, we take our focus away from the Lord, who should hold our devotion, our honor, and our praise. Even Christ once responded, referring to Himself: “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” He also commanded: “Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God” (D&C 76:61; also 1 Cor 3:21). For if the Lord “…inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God…” (2 Nephi 26:33)…shouldn’t we emulate Him by doing the same?

The flip side of this is how you view God's interactions with you. We are all on equal footing from the Lord's perspective. Your path back into His presence is your own and you cannot judge another's. He invites us all to come unto Him. He is no respecter of persons. Your status in this world does not matter to Him; yet your humility, your repentance, and the diligence with which you seek Him does matter a great deal. Our connection and communication with Him depends upon our effort and faithfulness: "And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such. And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren. Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared" (Alma 13:3-5). And conversely, the source of inequality (from God's perspective) is described in this verse: "And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men" (Alma 28:13).

"And the servants of God shall go forth, saying with a loud voice: Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come" (D&C 133:38). Idolizing and respecting others differentially will not improve our relationship with the Lord, it will likely curtail it. Instead: "Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness" (Jeremiah 13:16).

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