Jacob 3:7 Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they in the sight of your great Creator?
Jacob 3:9 …but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.
I remember a time when the Spirit taught me this lesson a little bit differently on my mission. I was in an area where a portion of the missionaries were being disobedient. As I spoke with some of the other missionaries, we all took turns expressing frustration about the situation. These disobedient missionaries were both popular and successful; they were baptizing more than the rest of us. While baptism numbers shouldn’t necessarily be an indicator of a successful mission, it can definitely feel disheartening when you feel like you’re being as obedient as you can be without “seeing” results.
I took my “righteous” anger to my personal studies in the morning. I felt justified in my frustration towards this group, and boy, was I wrong. It just so happened that I was reading about the stripling warriors that morning. There are many things that are memorable about this story including sacrifice, powerful mothers, divine protection, and exact obedience. However, I learned a completely different and humbling lesson that morning. As I was reading this story, the Spirit chastised me and taught me about these missionaries that I was so blindly judging. I was blown away when the Spirit whispered to me that these missionaries would have stepped up to be stripling warriors if they had been born in a different time.
Who was I to think I knew about sacrifice? The stripling warriors and their mothers knew about sacrifice, and these missionaries who were raised in completely different homes than me knew about sacrifice. I had a family that taught me about the gospel regularly. All of my siblings are happily active and passing the gospel down to the next generation. Sure, there were things that I gave up to go on a mission, but my whole family was supporting me and loving me out there. Because of how I’d grown up, it had never been truly difficult for me to live the gospel. The Spirit taught me that these missionaries had given up far more than I knew about in order to preach the gospel.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have done half as well if I had been given the same circumstances.
And so…what really matters to the Lord? It is our hearts.
The Lamanite families loved each other, and that mattered more to the Lord than the word “Nephite.”
So when you’re tempted to look at the “filthiness” of another, perhaps you can consider whether their small level of obedience matches that of the widow’s mite. Be careful to not throw around your own righteousness like the Jews did with their tithes. Recognize the widow’s mite. “Remember your own filthiness,” and choose to focus on giving your personal all (whatever that may be). It is far more productive than focusing on what another might not be giving.