A few years ago I had a small sign made and placed on the secondary door of one of my offices. It read, “Come in without knocking and leave the same way.” It was interesting to observe people’s facial expressions as they pondered this play on words. According to the dictionary, knock has two definitions: “to strike something with a sharp blow,” and “to find fault with, a harsh and often petty criticism.” Perhaps in human relationships both of these meanings could apply. This sign served as a reminder to me to come into the office without finding fault and to leave at the close of the day the same way. I also hoped that it might help others who entered and left.
There is a tendency among too many in our society, young and old, to knock the establishment, knock the community, and knock the neighbors. There is a certain growing segment of society who would rather knock than kneel, rather knock than negotiate, or rather knock than know. They have left unheeded the truth found in Psalm 118, verse 24:
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
There is a great need today for all mankind to heed the plea to cease to find fault one with another. Some of us are so accustomed to wearing faultfinding spectacles that we cannot see past them. We need to open our eyes and ears and look for the good and the blessings around us.
“… Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9.)
If we love God, we will love our fellowmen. If we love God, we will appreciate and acknowledge his wondrous creations.
Isn’t it disturbing as well as alarming that some of our youth responded to a recent street interview with the following comments. The question asked them was, “If you were to write a letter to someone on another planet, what would you tell them to convince them to either come to earth or stay away?”
“Stay where you are because you can’t breathe here and you’ll get beat up in the streets.”
“Stay away. Earth is already too crowded and too polluted.”
“Stay away. Humans are narrow-minded people who can’t accept you as you are, and the world is such a mess you probably wouldn’t live because of our polluted environment.”
And finally: “Stay away. There is nothing for anyone here except trouble.”
Comments such as these remind us of the universal need to take heed of the admonition of Paul:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philip. 4:8. Italics added.)
We sometimes unknowingly find fault with God when we ignore or criticize his children. God loves us. He will make our paths bright and joyous as we come to know him and his eternal ways. Faultfinding is a great deterrent to man’s progress. A worthy daily prayer for us could well be to ask our Heavenly Father for the strength and determination to cease finding fault one with another. Almost all men will respond to sincere praise and rebel at harsh and cutting criticisms.
Let me share with you for a few moments the positive, progressive attitude of a friend of mine formerly confined in the Utah State Prison. “I don’t want to blame anyone back home for my being in prison, but it is factual that I had no family relationships. I was involved in the family home evening program at the prison. Without the people [parents] who had been assigned to me through this program, many times I would have given up. These people loved me as if I were their own son. I have never had that, even when I was a small boy. Now with their help and the help of others I believe I can make it back a day at a time. I am not proud of having been in prison, but I am proud of my recent experiences while there. We have a tendency to blame others. We don’t want to blame our parents for not loving us, because we know they do, but maybe they didn’t have the guidance and direction in their lives to apply when they were bringing us up.”
Perhaps in the minds of many of us this fine young man would be justified in knocking his parents, knocking society, and knocking our systems, but he didn’t. Instead, he is thanking those who have helped him and is sincerely grateful for the direction in which his life is moving today.
Church attenders in prisons are, unfortunately, in the minority and are often classified by their associates in uncomplimentary terms, but this fine young man, bless his courage, is not ashamed to be identified as a member of “God’s Squad.”
We are living in a day when we need to look for the good in neighbors, associates, and family members. It is hard for any one of us to find heroes among our neighbors when our pleasures seem wrapped up in faultfinding. Probably the greatest discovery for mankind can be found in ordinary neighbors. We generally find that for which we are looking. We need to speak the good word, build our associates, and cease finding fault. We need to thank God for life, opportunities, and his love.
One of the most universal ways of knocking and faultfinding today is found in murmuring. If we would travel in paths of purpose and protection today, we would murmur not. Murmuring is a dangerous pastime. Laman and Lemuel and their sorrows stand as convincing evidence to what can happen through murmuring.
“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” (1 Ne. 2:12.)
Later in 1 Nephi 3:5–6, Lehi, the father, spoke to Nephi, saying:
“And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
“Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.”
What a promise to Nephi and what a promise to us today that we shall be favored of the Lord if we murmur not.
May I remind you, my young friends, it is just as true today as it was then, before you deny, defy, condemn, or apostatize, you must murmur first.
A few days ago we visited with an elder in the mission field. During the interview I inquired, “Is your father a member of the Church?”
He said, “No.”
“Is your mother a member of the Church?”
He responded with, “Just barely.”
“Did your father want you to go on a mission?”
He answered, “No.”
“Did your mother want you to go on a mission?”
“She really didn’t care whether I went or not.”
“Who influenced you most in your decision to go?”
“I did. I’ve always wanted to go, and I knew I could make a success of it.”
I looked that young man in the face and said, “From what I hear and what I feel of your spirit, you will succeed.” Here was a great individual who had the opportunity to knock and to murmur, “My dad doesn’t care. My mother doesn’t care. Why should I care?” He knows the importance of going forward and has the courage to continue.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every neighborhood fence, every office, every home, every church, every club house, every classroom, yes, every telephone, could be labeled, “Come in without knocking and leave the same way.”
“Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another.” (D&C 136:23.)
I pray to God that we may realize it is our challenge to be doers of the word, not critics, not those who murmur, not self-indulging faultfinders. Blessings lie in store for those who will cease finding fault one with another and will truly love God, neighbors, and family members. We cannot walk in truth by stepping on others. If we will live together in love, we will cease faultfinding and will come and go without knocking.