The parable of the puffy pillows
Once I stayed at a hotel where the pillows appeared so large and soft and puffy that I looked forward to bedtime, thinking the pillows would be comfortable and facilitate deep sleep.
Alas, when I put my head on the pillows, they collapsed like deflated basketballs.
I thought of the words of Paul regarding charity, the pure love of Christ.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could move mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
“Charity never faileth…And abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
Unlike my puffed-up pillows which collapsed as soon as pressure was applied, true charity is not puffed up, prideful, or easily provoked.
The love which Jesus has for each of us is infinite and eternal. As our Savior and Exemplar, He urges us to love others. “Love one another; as I have loved you…By this shall all men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
But the love that Jesus urges us to have for our brothers and sisters goes beyond the convenience of just loving our friends or those who readily love us back. Having the pure love of Christ in our hearts is not an easy path.
He taught: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-46)
As in all things, Jesus set a perfect example, often reaching out specifically to those who were not prominent in a worldly sense.
As His closest disciples, He chose common fishermen and tax collectors. (Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9)
People murmured when Jesus dined with Zacchaeus, whom they called a sinner. (Luke 19:1-10)
And when the stone-wielding crowd advanced on the woman taken in adultery, Jesus countered with kindness and compassion. (John 8:1-8)
True Christian discipleship requires that we love fiercely.
In this season of thanksgiving, may we each show our gratitude to God by loving our neighbor, including and especially those who may have wronged, betrayed, or disappointed us.
Speaking recently of the importance of Christ-like love, Elder Ulisses Soares, an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught,
“How do we find this love within ourselves? Actually we find it through spending more time listening to people who are different from us. Let’s not feel so threatened by a difference of opinion. Let us instead respect the sincerely held beliefs of our neighbors, and by doing so, you may find your own beliefs strengthened.”
Dr. Brent Roberts is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.