Relief Society Lesson 2: Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself

Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Acceptance, charity, Friendship, Relationships, Relief Society Lessons | 8 comments

Guest Post by Vada
Vada blogs at http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/

Love Thy NeighborI thought this section in the manual was great.  Then again, I think the subject is about the best one imaginable.  I don’t think we can ever teach love too often.  I’ve left in everything in the lesson, and put extra quotes, discussion questions, and my own thoughts in italics throughout.

Chapter 2: “Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, 2010

Reaching out to others in love and compassion is essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

From the Life of George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith was well known for his capacity to love others. President J. Reuben Clark Jr., one of his counselors in the First Presidency, said of him: “His real name was Love. … He gave his love to everyone he met. He gave his love to all whom he did not meet.”

President Smith’s love for others grew from his sincere conviction that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same Heavenly Father. Near the end of his life, he said to the Saints:

“I do not have an enemy that I know of, and there is no one in the world that I have any enmity towards. All men and all women are my Father’s children, and I have sought during my life to observe the wise direction of the Redeemer of mankind—to love my neighbor as myself. … You will never know how much I love you. I have not words to express it. And I want to feel that way toward every son and every daughter of my Heavenly Father.”

President Smith demonstrated his love for others through countless acts of compassion. One observer noted: “It is characteristic of President Smith to go out of his way on errands of personal comfort and blessing to many who are sick, who are down-hearted, and who have cause to be grateful for his cheerful encouragement. It is not uncommon to see him, before and after office hours, walking hospital halls, visiting room after room, blessing, encouraging, and cheering with his unexpected appearances in those places where his comforting and reassuring presence is so gratefully welcome. … It is characteristic of him to go wherever he feels that he can give help and encouragement.”

President Thomas S. Monson shared a specific example of President Smith going out of his way to show love for someone in need:

“On a cold winter morning, the street cleaning crew [in Salt Lake City] was removing large chunks of ice from the street gutters. The regular crew was assisted by temporary laborers who desperately needed the work. One such wore only a lightweight sweater and was suffering from the cold. A slender man with a well-groomed beard stopped by the crew and asked the worker, ‘You need more than that sweater on a morning like this. Where is your coat?’ The man replied that he had no coat to wear. The visitor then removed his own overcoat, handed it to the man and said, ‘This coat is yours. It is heavy wool and will keep you warm. I just work across the street.’ The street was South Temple. The good Samaritan who walked into the Church Administration Building to his daily work and without his coat was President George Albert Smith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His selfless act of generosity revealed his tender heart. Surely he was his brother’s keeper.”

“The pure love of Christ is expressed as we give selfless service. Helping one another is a sanctifying experience which exalts the receiver and humbles the giver. It helps us become true disciples of Christ.” (The Essence of Discipleship, Silvia H. Allred, April 2011)

How can we follow President Smith’s example and become disciples of Jesus Christ by showing love for our fellowmen?  (Give the class some ideas to start discussion, if needed, such as giving to the needy, visiting the sick or lonely, smiling at someone who seems down, or performing service.)

Teachings of George Albert Smith

All people are our brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father.

We look upon all men as our brothers, all women as our sisters; we look upon the face of every human being that is in the world as a child of our Father, and believe that as each is in the image of the Father, so also each possesses a spark of divinity that if developed will prepare us to return to His presence. …

That is our understanding of the purpose of our existence in the world, and explains our interest in our fellowmen. Many have supposed that we were exclusive in our lives, and some have thought that we were clannish. The fact is, we look upon every child that is born into the world, as a son or daughter of God, as our brother or our sister, and we feel that our happiness will not be complete in the kingdom of heaven unless we enjoy the companionship of our families and those of our friends and associates with whom we have become acquainted and in whose interest we give so much of our time on earth.

“For the most part, our neighbors not of our faith are good, honorable people—every bit as good and honorable as we strive to be. They care about their families, just like we do. They want to make the world a better place, just like we do. They are kind and loving and generous and faithful, just like we seek to be. Nearly 25 years ago, the First Presidency declared: “Our message … is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father” (First Presidency statement, 15 Feb. 1978).

That is our doctrine—a doctrine of inclusion. That is what we believe. That is what we have been taught. Of all people on this earth, we should be the most loving, the kindest, and the most tolerant because of that doctrine.”(Doctrine of Inclusion, M. Russell Ballard, Oct 2001)

As I think of my regard and my affection for my Father’s family, the human family, I remember something my earthly father said, and I think probably I inherited that in part from him. He said, “I have never seen a child of God so deep in the gutter that I have not had the impulse to stoop down and lift him up and put him on his feet and start him again.” I would like to say I have never seen one of my Father’s children in my life that I have not realized he was my brother and that God loves every one of his children.

What a happy world it would be if men everywhere recognized their fellowmen as brothers and sisters, and then followed that up by loving their neighbors as themselves.

How can applying these teachings improve your relationship with your neighbors, co-workers, family members, and others?

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love all of God’s children.

The gospel teaches us to have charity for all and to love our fellows. The Savior said:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:37–40.]

Brethren and sisters, if the gospel of Jesus Christ, as delivered to you, has not planted that feeling of love in your hearts for your fellow men, then I want to say that you have not enjoyed the full fruition of that wonderful gift that came to earth when this Church was organized.

What are some teachings or stories in the scriptures that inspire you to love and serve others?  (Personally I would probably list some New Testament stories of the Savior helping others, and the story of Ruth and Naomi.)

Our ministry is one of love. Our service is one which enriches our lives. … If we are living as God intends that we should live, if we are ministering as he desires that we should minister, every day of our lives is enriched by the influence of his Spirit, our love of our fellowmen increases and our souls are enlarged until we feel that we could take into our arms all of God’s children, with a desire to bless them and bring them to an understanding of the truth.

As members of the Church of Christ, we should keep His commandments and love one another. Then our love should pass beyond the border lines of the Church with which we are identified, and reach out after the children of men.

(Elder Ballard has a wonderful retelling of the parable of the good Samaritan.  If you need to fill more time, it would be wonderful to read through the whole thing, which I have included at the end of the lesson, or if you are pressed for time, I would simply say something like, “Some of the Savior’s greatest teachings about love come from the parable of the Good Samaritan,” and then read the ending of the quote below.)

Every time I read this parable I am impressed with its power and its simplicity. But have you ever wondered why the Savior chose to make the hero of this story a Samaritan? There was considerable antipathy between the Jews and the Samaritans at the time of Christ. Under normal circumstances, these two groups avoided association with each other. It would still be a good, instructive parable if the man who fell among thieves had been rescued by a brother Jew.

His deliberate use of Jews and Samaritans clearly teaches that we are all neighbors and that we should love, esteem, respect, and serve one another despite our deepest differences—including religious, political, and cultural differences.(Doctrine of Inclusion, M. Russell Ballard, Oct 2001)

Let us evidence by our conduct, by our gentleness, by our love, by our faith, that we do keep that great commandment that the Savior said was like unto the first great commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

We exercise charity by reaching out to those who need help and encouragement.

The measurement of the result of what love and charity may bring into the world is impossible. Opportunity is offered in every branch and ward and mission field to go about radiating sunshine, developing happiness and lifting up those who are discouraged, and bringing joy and comfort to those who are in distress.

The Lord says this:

“See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires. …

“And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” [D&C 88:123, 125.] …

… Are you following his advice with reference to charity? I want to say that at this particular period of our lives we need to exercise charity, not only in imparting of our substance to those who are in need, but we need to have charity for the weaknesses and failures and mistakes of our Father’s children.

(I think this is an important point and would probably stop here to discuss how we can apply this in our own lives.)

If we find a man or a woman who has not succeeded in life, one who is weakening in his faith, let us not turn our backs upon him; let us make it a point to visit him, and go to him in kindness and love, and encourage him to turn from the error of his way. The opportunity to do individual work among us as a people is present everywhere; and there are few men and few women in this Church who could not, if they would, reach out a little farther from the circle with which they are identified, and say a kind word, or teach the truth to some of our Father’s children. … This is our Father’s work. It is the most important thing that we will be identified with in this life.

“Heavenly Father loves us and knows our unique circumstances and abilities. Although we seek His help daily through prayer, it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.” (The Essence of Discipleship, Silvia H. Allred, April 2011)

We can all strive to listen to the Spirit and be the hands and feet of our Heavenly Parents in answering the prayers of Their children.

(This next paragraph isn’t bad, but seems a little disjointed in this lesson.  I may or may not skip over it.) I have only good will in my heart for mankind. I haven’t any animosity in my heart toward any living human being. I know some that I wish would behave themselves a little better than they do, but that is their loss, not mine. If I can get my arm around them and help them back on the highway of happiness by teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ, my happiness will be increased thereby. … You cannot drive people to do things which are right, but you can love them into doing them, if your example is of such a character that they can see you mean what you say.

True happiness comes from loving and serving others.

Do not forget no matter how much you may give in money, no matter how you may desire the things of this world to make yourselves happy, your happiness will be in proportion to your charity and to your kindness and to your love of those with whom you associate here on earth. Our Heavenly Father has said in very plain terms that he who says he loves God and does not love his brother is not truthful [see 1 John 4:20].

It isn’t only what we receive that makes us happy; it is what we give, and the more we give of that which is uplifting and enriching to our Father’s children, the more we have to give. It grows like a great fountain of life and bubbles up to eternal happiness.

When our life here is ended and we return home, we will find credited to us there every good act we have performed, every kindness we have done, every effort we have put forth to benefit our fellows. …

… Let us evidence our appreciation of what the Lord has given us by serving Him, and we are serving Him when we do good to His children. Freely we have received, now freely give [see Matthew 10:8]. With hearts warmed with love and kindness for our fellow men, let us press steadily on until the final summons shall come, and we shall meet our record. Then, if we have improved our talents, if we have been honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and charitable, and have sought to uplift every soul with whom we have associated, if we have lived up to the light we have received, and disseminated that light whenever opportunity has presented, how happy we will be and how our hearts will swell with gratitude when we receive from the Maker of heaven and earth that welcome plaudit: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:21.]

“We follow the Savior’s example when we minister to the needy, the sick, and the suffering. When love becomes the guiding principle in our care for others, our service to them becomes the gospel in action. It is the gospel in its finest moment. It is pure religion.” (The Essence of Discipleship, Silvia H. Allred, April 2011)

*Here is the longer excerpt from Elder Ballard’s talk:

It may very well have been a beautiful, crisp autumn day like this. The Savior was sitting, teaching some of His disciples, when a man identified only as “a certain lawyer” stood and asked Him, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus knew the man’s heart and understood the question was a thinly veiled attempt to get Him to say something contrary to the law of Moses.

The Savior responded to the question with two questions of His own: “What is written in the law? how readest thou?”

As you might expect, the lawyer was able to recite the law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”

“Thou hast answered right,” the Savior said. “This do, and thou shalt live.”

But the lawyer wasn’t satisfied with that. Knowing that there were strict rules and beliefs among the Jews regarding association with those not of the faith, he pressed the Lord for more information, hoping to trap Him in controversy: “And who is my neighbour?” he asked.

It was time, once again, to teach. Jesus drew upon one of His favorite and most effective teaching techniques: a parable, perhaps one of the most-beloved and well-known parables in all of Christendom.

You know the parable, how a man from Jerusalem was on his way to Jericho and fell among thieves and was left half dead. A certain priest passed by on the other side; neither did a Levite stop to help. Then Jesus taught:

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

“And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

Then Jesus asked the lawyer one more question: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?”

And the lawyer replied: “He that shewed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus delivered His final instruction to the lawyer—and to all who have read the parable of the good Samaritan: “Go, and do thou likewise” (see Luke 10:25–37).

Every time I read this parable I am impressed with its power and its simplicity. But have you ever wondered why the Savior chose to make the hero of this story a Samaritan? There was considerable antipathy between the Jews and the Samaritans at the time of Christ. Under normal circumstances, these two groups avoided association with each other. It would still be a good, instructive parable if the man who fell among thieves had been rescued by a brother Jew.

His deliberate use of Jews and Samaritans clearly teaches that we are all neighbors and that we should love, esteem, respect, and serve one another despite our deepest differences—including religious, political, and cultural differences.

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8 Comments

  1. You know, I saw people rolling their eyes, saying, “Great…George Albert Smith, that’ll be interesting” when the new manuals came out. But, golly, the more I read about President Smith (especially after this lesson), the more I think this man is my kind of prophet.

  2. I am really worried about this lesson. I just hate to read a whole lesson. They can read by themselves. I want to think of a way to present it that doesn’t involve following along. Any ideas?

    • Hi 3nagranch –
      I COMPLETELY agree with you – the fastest way to lose attention is to start reading the manual in lessons. I am also teaching tomorrow and here are some thoughts:
      Write on the board:
      Go and Give
      Before and After
      Reach outside the box

      Then reference each of these points as they exemplified President Smiths life, and then use them as springboards for generating discussion to help the sisters apply it to their own lives (i.e. what they can do differently as a result of having been in the lesson)
      example:
      “why is it so hard for us to go and give?”
      “What are some of the ways that we can go and give?” (a great resource for this part is the talk by Elder Jose L. Alonso “Doing the right thing at the right time, without delay” he talks about how doing the right thing in helping others does not require a committee meeting, a presentation, or a plan, it just requires that we get going and do it NOW. Fabulous application to the example set by the 4th paragraph of the lesson).
      Before and After:
      “It was often said of President Smith that he was seen doing these acts of compassion before and after office hours…. in other words, he put in his time, and then did more. I know that I get to the end of a long day of mothering and want to ‘punch the time clock’ and just have some me time. How do we get out of our own little world and start a habit of ‘before and after hours’ service?”
      One example is that he gave his coat away on the way to work. He did the right thing, in the right time, without delay. How many of us see a need throughout out day and have the thought, “oh wouldn’t it be nice if someone did something for them? Or, it would be nice to take them a nice cup of hot chocolate, or etc etc…” there are many small ‘suggestions’ that enter our minds. Acts of kindness do not have to be huge productions. It can be as simple as taking off your coat. Baking a loaf of bread. Making a phone call. They may be small and simple, but isn’t that the way the Lord works? What Small acts of kindness done for you have completely changed the course of your day, or week (maybe even acts that the person had no idea how much it meant to you?).
      Reach Outside the Box:
      we have been told that we tend to be a bit ‘clickish’ as latter day saints, and that is, in part, true. It’s just more comfortable to be around people who ‘get’ me. But as G.A. Smith taught by his example, God loves ALL of his children, and, just like you would want someone to reach out and help one of your children who was hurting or alone (even if they smelled kind of funny!), He wants us to help each other here on earth. How can we ‘reach outside our circle’
      I also love the quote from him (in the last paragraph before the section titled “True happiness comes from loving and serving others.”) “I have only good will in my heart for mankind. I haven’t any animosity in my heart toward any living human being. I know some that I wish should behave themselves a little better than they do, but that is their loss, not mine. If I can get my arm around them…” Wow! What a powerful sentiment. How do we react when we see people who “wish would behave themselves a little better than they do”? I know I don’t always react in the way that exemplifies charity…
      There are so many good quotes in that section on loving and serving others that you could use to start discussions. There is also one from Marvin J Ashton: “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weakness, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.”
      There could be a whole other level of discussion based off of the last section of the lesson under loving and serving others with the view of charity – serving others by not becoming offended and forgiving easily. That could lead to some great discussions!
      Good luck with the lesson!

      • Thanks so much for your thoughts. SO helpful!

      • Great ideas for this lesson. Thanks for the reference to the Edler Alonso talk.

  3. I am nervous about giving this lesson…but then, I’m nervous about giving EVERY lesson I give. I have TOO MUCH information.
    I really like to start out my lessons with a good “attention getter”… but I can’t really think of anything for this one. I am thinking about maybe writing on the board “What is Love?” and have the sisters voice what is love, to them… then talk about the difference between the world’s view of love and the Lord’s view of Love (Charity). … I would also like to list on the board (with help from sisters) different ways we can show charity/love toward our: children, husband, ward members, strangers, enemies, and finally God.
    I really love the book “the 5 love languages” by Gary Chapman, but I’m not sure if I can incorporate any of the suggestions into this lesson. (may not be appropriate?)
    If any readers have suggestions for me, please!!

    • I think a quick summary of the 5 love languages would be appropriate and would work well in this lesson; you can google some love language worksheets– even hand them out and discuss how to apply the love languages in families, VTing, friendships, missionary work, etc. Perhaps correlate it with Matthew 25:40, reminding the sisters that they each have diff rent needs and wants, but when we serve each other in the way that each of use needs and wants, then we get a greater reward.(D&C 51:3) :)

  4. Thank you so much to everyone for their comments/thoughts. My lesson today went great! Everyone loved it! Thanks for the inspiration =)

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