Today I read Philippians 3 where Paul warns the Saints to beware of those who would lead them astray. He also says what might possibly be every missionaries favorite line in all of holy writ, beware of dogs. Now, obviously he is not referring to man’s best friend, our furry canine companions, but rather the dogs of scripture, or those who would trample the things of God under their feet. And truly we do need to beware of those who would lead us astray and make it harder for us to live the teachings of Jesus Christ.
We have talked in previous posts that a true friend is one who makes it easier to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A true friend, even if they are not a Christian themselves, will respect your belief and actually hold you to it! I can recall numerous times being told by my friends in high school that if they ever saw me smoking a cigarette or drinking an alcoholic beverage it would not go well for me. This was not a threat because they liked to hurt people, but merely that I was a constant in their lives. As a teenager it is hard sometimes because so much is changing in your own body, in your life and all around you. So my friends always appreciated that no matter what happened, when push came to shove, they could count of Fred being a certain way. They expected it and if I ever let them down, well it didn’t bear thinking about to them. Suffice to say, in its own round about way, I had my own support group in keeping the commandments of God. These were friends that expected me to keep the commandments of God at all times. They demanded it.
The Savior had a similar provision to His followers when He lived on the earth. He told them not to cast their pearls before swine. Now, both Paul and Jesus did not say this because we want to keep the word of God away from those who are seeking it, far from it. They said this because they understood how hard it can be to have your faith mocked and have your testimony called into question. Have you ever had someone try and prove you wrong, be you Latter-day Saint or another denomination of Christian? It’s not a pleasant feeling. And if you start to bear your testimony to try and bring the Spirit into the conversation, you can at times be met with derision, mocking or sometimes outright hostility. I personally don’t see the problem with “feeling” that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is right. No one has a problem with the term gut feeling. Why is this any different? But if you tell them you know the Gospel of Jesus Christ you will be met with scoffs and scorn. For some of us, that is no big deal. I could personally care less if someone mocks me for my testimony. For others it’s devastating and they never recover from it. Think about Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8. There were those who pressed forward, and even partook of the fruit, but because of the mocking laughter of those in the great and spacious building, they fell away. It’s the same concept.
Our testimony of Jesus Christ should be a happy thing and should not cause us to feel ashamed or to want to hide who we are. That is why Paul counseled us to avoid dogs, or those who cannot appreciate the things of the Spirit. It is not because we have anything to hide, but because association with them will not bring anything productive but will most likely cause us instead to fall away. One bad apple spoils the barrel or so the saying goes. It is much easier to hold true and faithful to our testimony when we are surrounded by those like us. As we strive to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I promise it will be so much easier if we are around those who also want to live the Gospel. It is also more enjoyable to live around those who believe as you do too! Until tomorrow.