Note: This is an article on our witnessing site, beyeperfect.org. It is addressed to Mormons. We encourage you to adapt it for your use.
How healthy are you? Some will immediately answer they are healthy because they feel good. A doctor, however, wouldn’t base his answer on how a person felt. He would give them a check-up. And if the question was asked by a professional football team of a player they intended to sign to a multi-million-dollar contract, they wouldn’t be content with a cursory doctor’s exam. They would require that an extensive battery of tests be run before they inked the deal. The higher the stakes, the more thorough the exam.
Being physically healthy is important. Being spiritually healthy is much more important because the stakes are so much higher. It isn’t wise, therefore, to determine our spiritual health on how we feel. What’s prudent is to thoroughly examine oneself. In Matthew chapters 5-6 Jesus gave us tools to do this. There he expanded on some of the commandments. Let’s look at four of them.
“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer”
1 John 3:15
Have you ever been unjustly angry at anybody? Some possible examples: at the driver who cuts you off in traffic; when you are having a bad day and you take your frustration out on the most convenient person; anger fueled by jealousy or when you compete in sports.
Have you ever spoken an unkind word to anybody? Some possible examples: unintentionally wounding a person while kidding around; snapping at a friend, spouse, or child; speaking disrespectfully about a politician or a superior.
Have you ever had hateful thoughts about anybody? Some possible examples: people who criticize your beliefs; enemies of your nation; an obnoxious co-worker.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Matthew 5:27 – 28
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”
Have you ever had unclean thoughts about another person?
Have you ever caught yourself rationalizing away your lust by saying what you are doing is not really lust?
Have you ever looked at a picture or watched a movie which gave you unclean thoughts?
Have you ever told, repeated, or enjoyed an off-color joke?
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
Matthew 5:43 – 44
Here we see we sin not only by doing what God forbids, but also by not doing what he commands. God commands us to love everybody including our enemies. Being apathetic or remaining neutral about anybody is a sin because these attitudes fall short of love.
Are you apathetic towards anybody? Do you love everybody including people who hate your nation or your church? Do you love the people who make your life miserable?
Do you always put love into practice by doing good to everybody you meet? (Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. Rom. 12:20)
Do you speak well of everybody including an inconsiderate neighbor, a domineering boss, an annoying acquaintance?
Do you pray for people who are mean to you, who criticize your church?
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
Matthew 6: 25
Do you worry about making ends meet? Do you worry about how you will provide for your family? Do you lose sleep worrying about the future?
Are you completely content with what you have? (1 Timothy 6:8 “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”)
How did you do? Do you ever fail to do what Jesus commanded? Are there any evidences of sin in your life? If so, James 2:10 applies: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Note how this Scripture says that just one sin results in a person being “guilty of all”. Imagine how devastated you would be if you heard a judge pronounce you guilty – guilty not just of a minor infraction but of breaking every single law! You would have no hope of ever again being free.
No hope. This is what God wants us to feel when we take an honest look at God’s commandments and our failure to keep them perfectly. He wants us to have no hope in ourselves. He wants us to despair of any chance we can please him on our own.
Then we will be eager to hear about how Jesus has saved us from God’s punishment. How Jesus keep the commandments perfectly for us. How he paid our debt to God’s justice. How salvation is his gift to us.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).