Monday, August 1, 2016

D&C 38:24-25 -- On Esteem and Potential

"And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me.
And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself."
Doctrine and Covenants 38:24-25

When God says things twice in a row, it seems like he is trying to emphasize a lesson.  So, I was thinking about this "esteem his brother as himself" thing, and two things kind of struck me.  One, that we don't really give other people the same kind of leeway that we give ourselves, and also that, in some cases, we are harder on ourselves than other people.

The esteem thing seems to go both ways, right?  We need to have esteem for others, and we need to have esteem for ourselves.  Esteem doesn't equal arrogance or pridefulness or selfishness, but a healthy realization that we are children of God with real potential.  On the other side, esteeming others means realizing that they are as well... children of God with amazing potential.  People who have value, and are worth loving and saving, just like we are.

Just like self-esteem can be confused with pride, I think that we can confuse humility with low self-esteem, and think that being down on ourselves is somehow a good, righteous thing, when it is nothing of the sort.  It's excellent to realize that we have faults, and things to work on, but as Ezra Taft Benson advised: "Realize your personal self-worth. Never demean yourself."  It's not okay to keep putting ourselves down.  It is an offense to God, in fact, to claim that we are not worth the time and effort that he has put into our lives.

Yes, indeed, you might bring up the fact that we are also told in scripture that we are "less than the dust of the earth" to justify some self-defeating behaviors.  However, unfortunately, totally not what that scripture is going for.  We have some massive obedience problems (dust is better at it than we are).  We need to work on that, but God doesn't want us to think of ourselves as sluggish pond scum.  He wants us to stand up and prove that we aren't.  He wants us to be humble and counsel with him in all that we do.  He doesn't want us to curl up into a ball and believe that we can't accomplish anything.

Today, let's realize that God wants us to love ourselves and other people.  Not one more than the other, but both equally.  He wants us to take care of ourselves and learn how to come to him, and he wants us to love other people enough to help them to do the same.  He doesn't want *any* potential wasted or lost, and he isn't condemning any of us to hell ahead of time and saying that life is hopeless.  It *isn't* ... and he will show us how to regain hope and find our way to him even now, if we go to him in sincere prayer.  Please, please don't give up.  Don't give up on yourself.  Don't give up on others.  Let's trust God, and believe that he can help us all find our way to him.

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