3 Nephi, Chapter 14

(Compare to Matthew 7)

What is the effect of a beam?

“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged (v. 1).  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (v. 2).  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye (v. 3)?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye (v. 4)?  Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye (v. 5).”

In the Savior’s time a beam would have been a piece of wood like a 2×4 used in carpentry, and a mote would have been a small sliver of wood like sawdust.  All of us have faults.  In the state of the natural man, we would rather overlook our own faults and see the faults in others.  It is likely, however, that our own faults are much greater than the faults we see in others.  We have a beam in our own eye, while those we judge have small motes.  We will be judged by the Lord and the faults in ourself that we choose to overlook, will be those that condemn us.  We need to keep ourselves close to the spirit and be willing to look inward and see the things that we need to change in order to become more Christlike.  When we pray daily and invite the spirit into our lives, we will be able to recognize these things more easily and therefore be able to work on them if we are willing.  Daily prayer will also keep us humble as we recognize the Lord’s hand in everything in our life.  If we are more humble, we are also more forgiving of others faults and less likely to judge.

Side note:  Judging others and using the spirit to discern are two different things.  We should use the spirit to discern if the influence of another would be good or bad.  With discernment aided by the spirit, we will protect ourselves and those whom we love and have stewardship over.  I think judging is truly looking for those faults in others with the intent to find ourselves better then they are.

Why would someone cast pearls before swine?

I have been mocked for some decisions and opinions over the course of my life.  It never feels good.  Our opinions are important to us and when they are mocked it is a personal attack on us, which is never a fun thing to experience.  Like our opinions and decisions, our covenants should hold a special place in our hearts and minds.  They should be considered very valuable.  When we were dealing with the aftermath of passing Prop 8 in California, the temple that I attend was surrounded by people professing their hatred for the church and its members.  Some graffitied the fence walls and others posted hateful signs as well.  This was purely outside the fence of the temple, but because I hold the temple and the covenants made there so sacred, I literally felt like it was a personal attack.  I know that if everyone was allowed in the temple whether they believed what was taught and done there, or not, there would be a lot of mocking of things I hold very dear to me.

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you (v. 6).”  In the Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:9-11 we read, “Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you (v. 9).  And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet (v. 10).  For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you (v. 11).”

Swine or pigs do not see any value in a pearl the way that we do.  To a pig a pearl would be just like a rock under their feet.  Our covenants and ordinances are included in the “mysteries of the kingdom” and should be valued greater than pearls.  The Savior is teaching the disciples and the multitude that these sacred things should not be taught to everyone, because many will mock and ridicule them for it.  Then they will likely use these things to further attack them.  This is why we do not openly share all that is done within the walls of the Temple of the Lord.

What is one way we can allow Christ in our lives?

In this picture, there is no handle on the door for the Savior to open it Himself.  We can imagine ourselves on the other side of this door.  Like this door, our hearts do not have a handle for others, including the Savior, to let themselves in.  We must open the door to our hearts and invite Him in.

“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (v. 7).  For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened (v. 8 ).  Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone (v. 9)?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent (v. 10)?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him (v. 11)?”

The Savior is teaching us that we need to pray to invite Him into our hearts.  When we do this, God will give us the good things that we desire.  He will do this because He is our the Father of our spirits and He loves us.

Why should we pray?  In this chapter we see that if we pray we will receive what we desire.  In D&C 10:5 we read, “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”  We pray to escape the temptations of Satan and conquer him.  In D&C 19:38 we read, “Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof.”  We pray to have the Spirit of God and all the blessings it brings, in our lives.  In D&C 31:12 we read, “Pray always, lest you enter into temptation and lose your reward.”  We pray so that we will be able to withstand temptation and gain exaltation to live with God again.  In D&C 32:4 we read, “And they shall give heed to that which is written, and pretend to no other revelation; and they shall pray always that I may unfold the same to their understanding.”  We pray to have an understanding of the scriptures and the revelations of God.  In D&C 90:24 we read, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.”  We pray so that the things in our lives will “work together for [our] good”.  And finally, in D&C 93:49 we read, “What I say unto one I say unto all; pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place.”  We pray so that Satan does not have power over us, because he will if we allow it.

How do we get answers from our prayers?  In this chapter we learn that we ask, seek and knock.  When we ask a question, providing it is good, God will provide an answer.  In 3 Nephi 18:19-20 we read, “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name (v. 19); And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you (v. 20).”  We need to believe that we will receive an answer.  In D&C 9:7-9 we read, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me (v. 7).  But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right (v. 8 ).  But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me (v. 9).”  We must ponder over it first, and go to the Lord prepared and focused.  In D&C 88:64-65 we read, “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you (v. 64); And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation (v. 65).”  We must ask in the name of the Lord and it must be “expedient” for us.  This means that is needs to be appropriate and practical for our purpose.  If our purpose is not in line with the will of God, he will still give us the answer and it may lead to our condemnation.  And lastly, in the Bible Dictionary under the word “Prayer” we read, “… The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings. … We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ – when his words abide in us (John 15: 7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.”  We will get answers when pray in the name of Christ with his wishes in mind, not our own.

How can we apply the Golden Rule today?

“Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets (v. 12).”  This is what we commonly know as the Golden Rule, which I have often heard said as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The way I think of applying it in my own life, is to try to think of myself in another’s position.  If I imagine myself in their shoes, I can often let offenses be forgiven and forgotten, I think twice before I say something that may be hurtful, I will think more of the ways that I can serve that person.  Choosing to serve others is probably the best way to put this rule into practice.

Baptism

What is the “strait gate”?

Imagine a long fence, with a gate across a path, and you are standing on that path.  The gate has a sign on it.  “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat (v. 13); Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (v. 14).”  The word strait means narrow.  The strait gate is the narrow gate that is the entrance into life eternal with our Father in Heaven.  In Second Nephi 31:17-18 we read, “Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost (v. 17).  And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive (v. 18 ).”  The sign that we see on the strait gate should say ‘Baptism’ because that is the ordinance we must do in order to enter through this gate. The path that continues on the other side of the gate, is the path to eternal life.

The gate makes a good symbol of baptism on the path of our lives, because without baptism, we cannot continue to progress.  The ordinance will either block us from continuing if we do not do it, or allow us the freedom to continue on if we do.  It is a strait gate because it is the only way that we can progress.  The gate to destruction is wide because there are so many ways that lead us down that path.  The Savior taught this principle to the Nephites and he lived by example when he was baptized during his ministry in Jerusalem.  The Savior was telling the Nephites just how important the principle of baptism is in the plan of our Father in Heaven.

How can we detect false prophets?

When we look at a piece of fruit, it may be difficult to know what type of tree it came from.  The thing we can know, is that if the fruit is good, it must come from a tree that is also good.  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (v. 15).  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles (v. 16)?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit (v. 17).  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (v. 18 ).  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (v. 19).  Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them (v. 20).”

The Savior is teaching us that we need to be wary of those who say they are prophets, but are not.  We will be able to tell if they are true prophets by their acts.  If their actions are good and righteous, then we can tell they are prophets.  If their actions are evil, then we can tell that they are not prophets.  The good fruit will touch our spirits and we will know the truth of it.  Bad fruit cannot touch our spirits in this way, however, we must be living worthy of the spirit’s influence to be able to discern the truth of it.

Are you a “doer” or just a “hearer”?

In James 1:22 we read, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  Those who hear the gospel, but do not live it, deceive themselves into thinking they are righteous.  The gospel of Christ is an active thing.  One cannot be a follower of the gospel, if they do not live it.  “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven (v. 21).  Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works (v. 22)?  And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (v. 23).”  Being a “hearer” of the gospel is the first step, because we must learn it first before we can live it.  But if we do not live the gospel, we cannot truly know the gospel and therefore we cannot truly know our Savior, Jesus Christ.  The Savior taught the Nephites, that even if they are living a way they think is good, if they are not living His gospel, they are not righteous enough to know Him and will not be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven.

“Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock (v. 24)—And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock (v. 25).  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand (v. 26)—And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it (v. 27).”  Those who choose only to hear the gospel will not remain strong and sure-footed when the trials of life and the temptations of Satan beat against them.  They will fail and will fall greatly into the hold of Satan.  On the other hand, those who choose to live the gospel will have the strength of the Lord as their foundation and they will stand firm in the face of adversity.  I believe this promise to be true and I have witnessed it in my own life.  I am so grateful for the gospel and for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who taught the Nephites how to live, and who lived His own life as a example for me to follow.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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