What a glad season this is when we remember the coming of the Christ child. There are only a few lines of scripture that tell us of this event, but their simple words carry with them “the hopes and fears of all the years” for people everywhere (“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” Hymns, 1985, no. 208).
Mark opens his writing with a bold declaration of testimony: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).
Luke states that, regarding the life of the Savior, he “had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” (Luke 1:3). He then gives a simple and beautiful account of the circumstances that took Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Luke’s is the wonderful story of the shepherds in the field tending their sheep, and of the birth in a manger, “because there was no room … in the inn,” and of the angel who declared: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:7, 10–11).
John begins his narrative with a declaration of the premortal existence of the Savior and of his place as Creator:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
“The same was in the beginning with God.
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. …
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1–3, 14).
These are the testimonies of the witnesses of those who walked with him, whose words have become the New Testament of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
There is another gospel, the testament of the New World, where the voice of the Eternal Father introduced the resurrected Lord to the faithful people of the Western Hemisphere: “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him” (3 Ne. 11:7).
Following this divine introduction, the resurrected Lord descended and stood in the midst of the people and said: “I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. … I am the light and the life of the world” (3 Ne. 11:10–11).
Added to these various declarations is the witness of the prophet of our dispensation, Joseph Smith, whose birth we also remember this month:
“And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; …
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father” (D&C 76:20, 22–23).
To all of these testimonies we add our own. He is Jesus the Christ, the Firstborn of the Father, the Creator of the heaven and the earth, the Jehovah of ancient Israel, the promised Messiah born in Bethlehem of Judea, the healer of the sick, the teacher of the doctrine, the Redeemer of the world, the author of our salvation, the resurrected Lord who sits on the right hand of the Father, our intercessor in whose name we pray to the Almighty.
Said he: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).
What a glorious promise to those who show their love by obedience. I desire to touch on one of the most commonly known and probably the least observed of the Lord’s commandments—that which has come to be known as the Golden Rule.
Said Jesus: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).
May I remind us at this Christmas season that if only each of us would reflect occasionally on that Christ-given mandate and make an effort to observe it, this would be a different world. There would be greater happiness in our homes; there would be kinder feelings among our associates; there would be much less of litigation and a greater effort to resolve differences. There would be a new measure of love and appreciation and respect.
There would be more generous hearts, more thoughtful consideration and concern, and a greater desire to spread the gospel of peace and to advance the work of salvation among the children of men.
Some time ago I received, without solicitation, a letter whose writer has given permission for me to share it:
“Dear President Hinckley:
“An hour ago I had a very special experience that led me to writing this letter. I was walking on my way home and a sudden feeling came over me that somewhere there is a young man who, except for money, qualifies to serve a mission for the Lord, and that I was to provide him with the necessary funds to serve a mission. I don’t have any idea who and where this young man is, but the feeling came over me that you would know, and I was to put the funds into your hands and see to it that he serves his mission. That left me in tears. I arrived home and asked my wife how she felt after I had told her of the experience that I had just had. [She], of course, consented.
“I am enclosing a check for $3,000, but the figure that came to my mind was $4,000. This is all the money that is available to us at present, but on January 27, we will send in another check for $1,000. I am still in my training as a physician. I have to work extra hours to earn a living for my wife and three daughters, and we do not have money for a down payment on a house. We have been trying for five years to save for a house, and the Lord has blessed us beyond measure.
“Three years ago, a similar feeling came over me, but as we thought about it we felt that the Lord was giving us a signal to be prepared to put at the altar what he requires of us. We decided then that once I am through with my training we will support as many missionaries as our finances will allow us. Tonight there was no doubt that the Lord has asked us to put that money on the altar.
“I am a convert to the Church, … and my wife was born under the sacred covenant. I left my home in Beirut [Lebanon] thirteen years ago. Since age eleven I dreamed of finding the true religion, and fifteen years later I found it. … I have missed death as a child on more than one occasion, but a divine power has saved me every time.
“When I came to America, … I was given no hope of gaining acceptance into a medical school simply because I was not a United States citizen. A voice within me whispered that I would be a physician one day.
“I have attended one of the best schools in the United States on a scholarship. I then went [to another medical school] for a reason totally unknown to me then. … A year later I was miraculously led to Church literature and joined the Church. Nine months later I met my wife, and we were married in the temple three months after we had met.
“As you see, I owe the Lord more than $4,000! He has given me my eyes, my hands to work and earn a living. …
“We … leave the money in your hands to [use] according to the inspiration of the Lord vested in you. … We love all those who labor in this great cause.
“May God bless us all in our service to him!
He then signs his and his wife’s names.
That letter, better than any feeble words of mine, breathes the spirit of Christmas, exemplifies the Golden Rule, and speaks with eloquence of the love of Him who gave His life as a sacrifice for all.
I would like to tell you of another who lived the Golden Rule. Many already know part of this story. It occurred a few years ago in the winter at O’Hare International Airport, that great and busy place that serves the city of Chicago. On this occasion a severe storm had caused delays and cancellations of flights. The thousands of people stranded or delayed there were impatient and cross and irritable. Among those in trouble was a woman, a young mother standing in a long line at the check-in counter. She had a two-year-old child who was on the dirty floor at her feet. She was pregnant with another child. She was sick and weary to the bone. Her doctor had warned her against bending and picking up anything heavy, so as she moved slowly with the line she pushed her crying and hungry child with her foot. People who saw her made critical remarks, but none offered to help.
Then a man came toward her and with a smile of kindness on his face said, “You need help. Let me help you.” He lifted the dirty, crying child from the floor and held her warmly in his arms. Taking a stick of gum from his pocket, he gave it to the child. Its sweet taste calmed her. He explained to those in the line the woman’s need of help, then took her to the head of the line, spoke with the ticket agent, and soon had her checked in. He then found seats where she and her child could be comfortable, chatted for a moment, and disappeared into the crowd without giving his name. She went on her way to her home in Michigan.
Years later there came to the office of the President of the Church a letter which reads as follows:
“Dear President Kimball:
“I am a student at Brigham Young University. I have just returned from my mission in Munich, West Germany. I had a lovely mission and learned much. …
“I was sitting in priesthood meeting last week, when a story was told of a loving service which you performed some twenty-one years ago in the Chicago airport. The story told of how you met a young pregnant mother with a … screaming child, in … distress, waiting in a long line for her tickets. She was threatening miscarriage and therefore couldn’t lift her child to comfort her. She had experienced four previous miscarriages, which gave added reason for the doctor’s orders not to bend or lift.
“You comforted the crying child and explained the dilemma to the other passengers in line. This act of love took the strain and tension off my mother. I was born a few months later in Flint, Michigan.
“I just want to thank you for your love. Thank you for your example!”
The world truly would be a different place if each of us frequently and seriously considered our Lord’s request: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).
At this Christmastime, when we celebrate the birth of the Son of God, our teacher, our king, our Savior, our Redeemer, the resurrected living Son of the living God, let us sincerely seek to do good unto those around us.
God bless us during this glad season with an increase of love, a decrease of selfishness, a greater desire to be helpful to those in distress, and an enlarged sense of service.
The scriptures give wonderfully clear testimonies about the reality of the birth, ministry, resurrection, and latter-day visitations of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the Lord’s most commonly known but least observed commandments is “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).
Our homes, our places of work, and our world would be different if each of us frequently applied this commandment of the Lord.