BLOG: (August 22-28) Psalms 102-150, “Thy word is a lamp unto my path, and a light unto my feet"
“Thy word is a lamp unto my path, and a light unto my feet” (Psalm 119:105). His word provides us with living water. He lights the way for us to see and gives us guidance along our way.
Light is meant to direct your attention to something else, not its source. For example, a flashlight directs your attention to wherever its beam of light shines, not the flashlight itself. The sun does the same thing. It doesn’t draw our attention, but rather invites our attention to whatever it is shining upon. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world” in His Sermon on the Mount; He continues, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5:14;16). He’s directing us to be a light, but not to direct attention to ourselves, to direct attention to our Father in Heaven. We are to be lights to those around us, collecting and gathering their attention with our good works to point them in the direction of our Father. (Side note: I define good works as genuinely loving interactions with others, not just service opportunities.)
“But if we walk in the light, as He is the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7). We’re trying to gather Israel and establish Zion. To me, having fellowship with one another is zion. We’re living in harmony with the principles of the gospel with others that are striving to do likewise. We need to be building zion, and we can’t do that if we’re focused on our differences. If Jesus did that while He was on the earth, He wouldn’t have ministered to hardly anyone. One way we focus on our differences is through judging others. He’s called us to be a light to others so they can find the truths of the gospel and be led to Him, and it's really difficult to do that when we’re too busy judging them.
We tend to judge each other, and often. Not only do we judge each other, but we want to know what others do wrong. That’s our natural man coming out. It’s why negative news stories sell. When we can judge others as “less than” we fall for Satan’s tricks that we are “better than” the other person. Our natural man likes to be better than others. It means to our natural man that we’re doing something right. Remember though, we’re not judged on Judgement Day on how we did compared to some other human, we’re judged for what we did on our own, where our heart was/is. Us being “better than” doesn’t mean we’re doing something right, even though Satan tries to convince us that’s what that means. It means we’re being prideful with that thought and we should perhaps spend time getting to know the other person. Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t like that man; I must get to know him better.” It’s impossible to make an enemy or “otherize” someone you know and love.
I recently read a book called Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. He’s a Jesuit priest who works with gang members in LA, helping them to rehabilitate and come to know God’s love for them. The tagline of the book is “The power of boundless compassion.” Gregory Boyle has a unique perspective about loving and showing compassion to everyone and seeing them as the Lord does. He said, “It is precisely because we have such an overactive disapproval gland ourselves that we tend to create God in our own image. It is truly hard for us to see the truth that disapproval does not seem to be part of God’s DNA. God is just too busy loving us to have any time left for disappointment” (Tattoos pg 28). God loves us and doesn’t shame us. Shame is something that comes from the Adversary. He meets us where we’re at and always invites us to “Come unto [Him].”
It’s really hard for us (at least most of us!) to not judge each other. In the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, the footnote to the verse “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” he corrects it to say “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment” (JST Matt 7:1). I would suggest that our judgment falls into the unrighteous category when it’s comparing another’s behavior with our own and results in the conclusion that we’re better or at least doing better than that other person. The opposite is true also: when we judge our behavior to be less than another’s and come to the conclusion that they’re better than us, we’re judging ourselves unrighteously. We all sin! But we’re commanded to love one another, and it’s awfully hard to love someone when you’re judging them.
Given this natural-man tendency to judge one another, we have to work extra hard at seeing others as God does, and that’s how we can be a light to them. Remember, Jesus’ gospel is a gospel of invitations. We invite others through the light that naturally shines forth from us when we accept Christ’s invitations and live the principles He teaches. “Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it” (Tattoos pg 67; emphasis added). Everyone has hard stuff to deal with. We don’t always know what it is; in fact, often we don’t, or at least not the full extent. Awe is defined as “fear mingled with admiration or reverence; reverential fear” (source). Admiration or reverence! How can we go about “standing in awe” at our fellow brothers and sisters who are struggling with hard things?
We are all sinners, and we all have hard things that we’re dealing with. “If you read Scripture scholar Marcus Borg and go to the index in search of ‘sinner,’ it’ll say ‘see outcast’” (Tattoos pg 70). How did Jesus treat the outcasts? He went and ministered to them. “Jesus was not a man for others. He was one with others. There is a world of difference in that. Jesus didn’t seek the rights of lepers. He touched the leper even before he got around to curing him. He didn’t champion the cause of the outcast. He was the outcast. He didn’t fight for improved conditions for the prisoner. He simply said, ‘I was in prison.’ The strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place - with the outcast and those relegated to the margins” (Tattoos pg 72).
The book of Malachi asks us, “Who shall stand when he appeareth?” In Psalms it asks,”Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place?” We are commanded to stand in holy places and be not moved (D&C 87:8). Where are those holy places? I would suggest that at least some of them are among those that are outcasts, either literal societal outcasts or they themselves are feeling they are outcast. Gregory Boyle suggests that “you stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship. You stand with the belligerent, the surly, and the badly behaved until bad behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear” (Tattoos pg 179). “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt 25:40).
“Thy word is a lamp unto my path, and a light unto my feet.” Jesus has shown us the way. All we have to do is follow it.
I'm Tiffany and I live in sunny Arizona (love me some sunshine!). I have 5 beautiful daughters. I know what you're thinking, that's A LOT of estrogen! and you'd be right, but we have some of the greatest times known to mankind through our adventures in learning (we homeschool), loving, playing, and growing together. In my spare time, I love to read (I own literally thousands of books) and hike in the beautiful mountains near my home.