July 31, 2007

Weed Your Own Garden

Brigham Young
February 6, 1853

Yesterday’s entry detailed the first half of Brigham’s address on the general purpose of life and the second half deals with the role of the individual in the gospel:

I will repeat part of the "Mormon Creed," viz, "Let every man mind his own business." If this is observed, every man will have business sufficient on hand, so as not to afford time to trouble himself with the business of other people.
We have enough on our plates to handle without trying to judge others. Usually, in judging others, we neglect judging ourselves. We are to help each other come unto Christ, but this doesn’t give us license to judge another’s proximity to Him. When we do that our views become contracted and instead of repenting, we believe others are the ones in need of Christ's mercy:
There are plenty of evils about our neighbors; this no person will pretend to deny; but there is no man or woman on the earth, Saint or sinner, but what has plenty to do to watch the little evils that cling to human nature, and weed their own gardens. We are made subject to vanity, and it is right. We are made subject to the powers of evil, which is necessary to prove all things.
We are apt to neglect our own feelings, passions, and undertakings, or in other words, to neglect to weed our own gardens, and while we are weeding our neighbor's, before we are aware, weeds will start up and kill the good seeds in our own. This is the reason why we should most strictly attend to our own business… if we, keep our own gardens clear of weeds, our neighbors will take a pattern by us, and produce from their gardens greater quantities of fruit another year.
The most common parable used to discuss blinding hypocrisy is the beam and the mote, (Matt. 7:1-5,) but another parable dealing with the Pharisee and the Publican is also illustrative of the point:
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted," (Luke 18:9-14).
Brigham said by learning this simple lesson, to keep our own gardens weeded, we can be happy “all the day long”:
I have learned not to fret myself about that which I cannot help. If I can do good, I will do it; and if I cannot reach a thing, I will content myself to be without it. This makes me happy all the day long. I wish you to learn the same profitable lesson. Who hinders you from being happy? from praying, and serving the Lord as much as you please? Who hinders you from doing all the good in your power to do? Who is there here, to mar in any way the peace of any Saint that lives in these peaceful valleys?
No one. It is for us to keep our own gardens clean, and see we do not harbor evil in our own hearts, and seek diligently to do all the good in our power, and never commit another evil while we live, what is there to prevent us from being happy? I know there never lived a happier people, upon the earth, I might venture to say, because of the dispensation in which we live; it brings joy, comfort, and satisfaction to those who will receive it, that could not be realized by any people who have lived before us (JD 2:90-105).
To follow the Lord, according to Brigham, we'll weed our own gardens rather than picking at the garden of our neighbors. Joseph Smith taught this idea as he discoursed on charity at an early Relief Society meeting. His words explain the best way to love our neighbors instead of judging them:

As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you increase in goodness, let your hearts expand--let them be enlarged towards others--you must be longsuffering and bear with the faults and errors of mankind. How precious are the souls of man!...
You must not be contracted but you must be liberal in your feelings… Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow'r it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.
All the religious world is boasting of its righteousness--it is the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind and retard our progress by filling us with self righteousness— The nearer we get to our heavenly Father the more are we disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back" (Instructions delivered at the Eliza R. Snow, Relief Society Minutes, Nauvoo Female Relief Society, Thurs. April 28, 1842, Held in upper room of Red Brick Store).
Charity, the pure love of Christ, is the key to keeping one's gardens weeded, and that influence will naturally spread to neighbors without coercion.
Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.
I would be my brother's keeper;
I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother's keeper--
Lord, I would follow thee.
Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother--
Lord, I would follow thee.
(Hymns, 220)

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Interesting quotes and hymn selection. Thanks for sharing.

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