Objective: To learn to love all whom we meet.
When asked “Which is the great commandment in the law?” the Savior replied, “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 neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:36–40.)
It can be a great challenge to love others, especially if they have hurt us. But the commandment is clear: As the scriptures teach, charity, the pure love of Christ, “seeketh not her own.” (Moro. 7:45.) If we are to come unto Christ and become like him, we must learn to truly love others.
Christl Fechter, a Czechoslovakian refugee, faced this challenge and, with the Lord’s help, overcame it. As a young woman, she was forced by political upheaval to leave her homeland for Germany. There she learned about the Church and was baptized in 1958. A year later, she moved to the United States, settling in Bountiful, Utah. While living in Utah, she was terribly hurt emotionally by someone and, for the first time in her life, felt hatred.
“I had been through all the terrors of the invasion of my country, but I had never before experienced the feeling of hate,” she says. “It changed my personality. Even my nonmember friends realized that I was not the same person any more. I knew this feeling was wrong, but I did not know how to change it.”
One day she read Matthew 5:43–45:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
“But I say unto you, 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;
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” [Matt. 5:43–45]
Christl felt that this passage was meant just for her. “I could not imagine myself praying for this person, but I wanted to do what the Lord said, and I knew I had to get rid of the hatred,” she says. So she knelt that night and prayed, with reservations, that the Lord would bless the person who had hurt her.
She felt a little better. The next night she prayed again, this time wholeheartedly, and she immediately felt the hatred lift from her, never to return. She discovered that the Lord could pour out his Spirit upon her and teach her to love as he does.
In the parable of the sheep and the goats, in Matthew 25:31–46 [Matt. 25:31–46], the Savior taught the importance of loving all those around us. When he comes again in his glory, all nations will be gathered into two groups—with the “sheep” on his right hand and the “goats” on his left. The former will “inherit the kingdom prepared for [them] from the foundation of the world,” while the latter will be cast “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
One of the distinctions between the two groups will be their treatment of those whom we may think of as different from us or difficult to love—the unkind, the unrighteous, the different, and the antagonistic. To those who love and serve these people, the Lord has said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40.)
Discuss an experience you had when you learned to love someone who was not easy to love. How did you develop that love?
Read and discuss together the parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25:31–46.
(See the Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 51–74, 98–108, and 160 for related materials.)