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. …
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:36–39.)
It can be a great challenge to love others, especially if they have hurt or misused us. But the commandment is clear; the Lord himself set the example for us in this as in all other things. The Lord expects us to open our arms and our hearts to all of our brothers and sisters, excluding no one. Loving our families and those who share our beliefs and standards is usually easy for us. But, when we must love someone we do not understand, we may hesitate.
Christl Fechter faced this challenge and, with the Lord’s help, overcame it. As a young woman, she was forced by political upheaval to leave her home-land—what is now Czechoslovakia—for Germany. There she learned about the Church and was baptized. She later moved to the United States. While living in Utah, she was hurt terribly 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. “I knew this feeling was wrong, but I did not know how to change it.”
One day she read Matt. 5:43–44: “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; …
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, through clenched teeth, that the Lord would bless the person who had hurt her.
She felt a little better. The next night she prayed again, this time sincerely, and she immediately felt the hatred leave 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, found in Matt. 25:31–46, the Savior taught the importance of loving all those around us.
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 hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner. 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.”
1. Discuss an experience you had when you learned to love someone who was not easy to love. How did you develop that love?
2. Read and discuss together the parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25:31–46 [Matt. 25:31–46].
(See the Family Home Evening Resource Book, pages 51–74, 98–108, 160 for related materials.)