Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants after His resurrection.
The passages below show the words from verses 43 and 48 of the King James version of Matthew and the comparable verses from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, 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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans do the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
“And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy; But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good. Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled. Old things are done away, and all things have become new. Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Nephi 12:43-48)
-How difficult is it to extend love to evil-doers in as indiscriminatory and consistent manner as God sends sunlight to all the the Earth?
-Is letting go of all anger and malice the same as being naïve about interacting with evil people in an unguarded fashion?
Alma, a Nephite prophet, teaches his people that they should love their neighbors as themselves.
“…Alma did teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them.” (Mosiah 23:14)
-How difficult is it to love your neighbor as yourself? Can you do so without God’s help?
After the Nephite people request a king, the man who the majority want to be their king (Alma) refuses. He explains why based on a specific commandment received from the Lord.
“Thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another or one man shall not think himself above another.” (Mosiah 23:7)
-What causes people to think they are better than others?
-How tempting is it for a person to seek confirmation that he or she is better than others?
-Does any good come from thoughts and actions based on a sense of superiority (or from establishing positions in social structure that signal superiority)?
-Since we are only saved by the grace of God through Christ’s loving Atonement, what position do we put ourselves in when we aren’t careful to extend the same kind of love to others (in our thoughts and actions) as Christ has extended to us?
King Benjamin teaches how those who have the love of God in their hearts will treat one another.
“And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.” (Mosiah 4:13-16)
-Is it possible to truly love God without the help of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to comprehend who God is without the witness of the Holy Spirit?