It was an interesting experience to see the insights I had as I went through this exercise the first time, what things I have retained and what things I have "forgotten" as I have focused on other godly characteristics. If nothing else, it has re-emphasized to me the importance of repeating some very basic things over time - and not letting myself think that I have mastered something even this fundamental.
I want to excerpt in this initial post some of the things that jumped out at me as I reviewed those previous posts:
I find it fascinating that the end of Matthew 5, where it admonishes us to not revile, comes full circle back to the beginning admontion to be poor in spirit. Truly, life and progression is one eternal round.
This passage (Matthew 7:21-23) also is the ultimate definition of "taking the Lord's name in vain". This describes those people who claim to be representing the Lord but not doing what His Father wants them to do. "Vain" means "arrogantly and/or without effect". Therefore, those who use His name in order to justify their actions when those actions are not what God wants them to do are guilty of both definitions above - arrogance and ineffectiveness.
Using the Lord's name without effect (like the non-thinking, reflexive, blasphemous usage that is SO common even among those who profess to be Christian) is bad enough. Doing so to justify improper actions is even worse.
The important point to make is that NOBODY is immune from this temptation or tendency - except for those who follow the admonition earlier in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:33-37) to "swear not at all, but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." In that context, nothing should be done "in thy name" except for sacred ordinances that require such attribution (e.g., "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." [Matthew 28:19]) and prophetic statements that truly do express His will ("Thus saith the Lord.").
My understanding of the multiple statements in the Sermon on the Mount regarding claiming to speak and act for the Lord makes me very wary of doing so outside the parameters set in the these passages. I believe that it is important to be careful to give credit where credit is due and avoid arrogance, but also not to begin to claim reflexively to represent Him in all we do - thus embracing the opposite manifestation of the arrogance that occurs when we fail to credit him.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
My dad was ecstatic to leave high school and formal education; he worked as a milkman, a type-setter handling hot lead that left his hands rough and calloused, a farm worker between jobs, etc. He retired after 20 years as an elementary school janitor.
He’s one of the most intelligent people I have met in my life, based on the D&C definition. He’s also perhaps the most selfless, humble man I know. I think there's a direct correlation, perhaps even a causation, between humility and spiritual intelligence.
I have found perhaps the truest measure of humility is how someone handles attempts at correction - BOTH correct and incorrect attempts at correction.
I think of pride as the inability to accept criticism as a chance for introspection. I think the truly humble hear criticism (no matter the content and context) and think, “Is that correct?” I think the truly proud hear criticism (no matter the content and context) and think, “Shove it, jerk!” I think most of us vacillate somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, often depending on how much we like and respect the person who is offering the criticism.
I think the truest test of humility is how we react to criticism from those we don’t like or respect - and I certainly need to work on that.
I would aprpeciate reactions to any or all of these quotes.