Practice Makes Perfect


Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matt. 25:40).

Practice Makes Perfect

My name is Eric, and I love to play basketball. According to Eddy, our team’s student manager, I’m the fifth grader most likely to make a shot. Mom says I play so well because I play so often. “Practice makes perfect,” she says. Today I discovered that I could use some practice at something besides basketball. …

At lunch, my friend Kurt and I were walking toward our usual table, when I saw Trevor sitting alone, picking green pepper bits off his pizza. All of a sudden, I had a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach, and it wasn’t entirely because of green peppers.

Trevor is a boy who comes to our ward sometimes. Yesterday Sister McQueiry, my Primary teacher, asked me to stay after class. She told me that the ward had set a goal to reach out to less-active members and that she needed my help. She knew that Trevor went to my school, and she asked me to invite him to Primary. I told her I would. When I saw Trevor, I knew I should talk to him right away, but I didn’t want to.

I mean, what would he think if I walked over there and just started talking? What would everyone else think? If he were an OK guy, why wasn’t anybody else sitting by him? Besides, this was only Monday, and I had all week to ask him to Primary. So I sat with Kurt at our usual table.

I must’ve felt a little guilty, though, because I ate my pizza, salad, corn, and chocolate cake a lot more slowly than usual. After about fifteen minutes, everyone else was out on the playground, but I was still eating my slice of pizza. The lunchroom was practically empty—except for Trevor and me.

I finally went over and sat by him. He was really quiet at first, but when I asked him about Boston, where his family had moved from, he started talking. I was so busy listening to him that I missed the entire lunch recess, and I barely remembered to ask him to church the next Sunday. I felt relieved to have my “Trevor assignment” over with.

I rushed home and played about ten games of one-on-one with Kurt before dinner. At family home evening, my sister, Kim, gave the lesson. It was all about the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31–46 [Matt. 25:31–46]. It compares the sheep to righteous people and the goats to wicked people. In verses 33–38 and 40, it says: “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you …

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? …

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, … Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

As I listened to the parable, I thought about Trevor eating lunch all alone. Then I thought about Jesus. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Was I really ignoring Jesus when I ignored Trevor?

Kim ended her lesson, and Dad asked if anybody had any questions. I raised my hand.

“Eric?” asked Dad, a little surprised.

“I just wanted to know,” I started, not sure how to ask my question, “if you do something good, but it takes you a while to do it and you really didn’t want to do it, but you did it anyway, would you be a sheep or a goat?”

Dad gave me a look of real concern. “What are you talking about?” he finally asked. And so I told him about Trevor.

“It sounds to me as if you knew the right thing to do and you did it.” I felt relieved to hear Dad’s answer. “But,” he added, “your attitude could use a little work.”

“You’re a sheep,” Kim decided. “Pretty much, anyway.”

“Today you were kind because you knew it was right,” Mom added. “In time, I hope you will help others because you love them as Jesus does. But it will take time and practice.”

I wonder if you can be willing to practice love and service like you’re willing to practice basketball. I wonder if you can practice them while you practice basketball. I’ve decided to have lunch with Trevor tomorrow. He seems interesting. Besides, Trevor is even taller than I am. I wonder if he can hit the outside jumper.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mike Eagle